Monday, December 17, 2012

Pretend Lollipops

Here is a super simple way to make pretend lollipops.  We traced circles onto adhesive backed fun foam.  Cut out two matching circles and put a lollipop stick in between.  That's it!  The kids had lots of fun creating different lollipops for the candy shop.  They poked each lollipop stick into half of a piece of pool noodle to display the lollipops.  The display headed off to a table and they hung up the candy shop sign.  Check out more candy shop ideas.

This activity encourages:
  • creativity
  • imagination
  • fine motor skills

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Playing Cards in the Bathroom? It works!

As you can see from the lack of blog posts I am having trouble making the time to write.  With children life can be very hectic at times as most of you know.  Between work, after school schedules and a little one each day seems to fly by and the Christmas season is making it pass even quicker.    Lately, I have been trying to make time during busy times to play with the children.  Here is what is working right now (doesn't mean it will work next week - haha!):

1.  Playing cards in the bathroom - I know sounds weird right?  But actually the two year old will stay in the tub happily entertaining herself which means I can pay some extra attention to the older children.  They take turns coming into the bathroom and we play a round of cards on the bathroom floor.  It is a win-win situation.  The little one gets clean and I get to play cards with the older ones.

2.  Cooking - My children love to cook and bake and obviously we need to eat.  During dinner preparation or baking desserts the kids will always help.  I don't have all of them help each time but rather one or two.  Makes it less overwhelming for me and they can tell me about their day without being interrupted.

3.  Travel Toy Bags - My older children are involved in sports which translates into lots of running around and some down time for the younger kids.  We have a few bags that come with us with small toys, trinkets and always paper and crayons to entertain us while we wait or watch.  The two year old obviously does not sit still for a basketball game nor would I expect her to.  This allows us to sit and play while I sneak peeks at the games.

What are your favorite activities to squeeze in?  I would love some new suggestions.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sticky Christmas Tree

Boy, just realized how long it has been since I lasted posted.  So busy here with back to school and sports that I can not seem to keep up with blogging which I sorely miss.  Partially because it forces me to "lesson plan" for some family activities and partially because I just enjoy sharing fun activities that work in our house.  Here is one that worked for us - sticky Christmas tree.  First use some permanent marker and draw a Christmas tree on the non sticky side of contact paper.  Then hang the contact paper sticky side up on the wall.  Give your little one some foam shapes or pom poms and start decorating.  The great thing about this activity is that it can used over and over again quite a few times before the stickiness comes off.  Super simple and entertaining for the 2+ year old crowd! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kid Created Scavenger Hunt

Many things make me proud as a mother, but when my children create their own entertainment I am always genuinely so proud.  It might seem simple to some but in this day and age of immediate entertainment of television, video games and tablets children are at risk of losing the skill of entertaining themselves.  Therefore, I spend a lot of "mothering" time trying to ensure that my children don't fall into the electronic abyss.  So when my daughter created this outdoor scavenger hunt for us to participate in the other day all by herself from the idea to the finished product, I was super proud.  She quietly started drawing a map of the yard and natural objects we had to collect at each location.  Then she made copies, made a cardboard mailbox with slots for each of us and the game was ready to go.  It was lots of fun for us all to do and I was beaming throughout the entire game.

What small moments make you proud as a parent?  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Playing Pretend Pet Store

Since most children would love to purchase many different pets, nothing beats playing pretend pet store.  The children can be pet store owners or shop for all the pretend pets they would like.  It also makes excellent use of all those stuffed animals kids have around the house.

This last time the kids played they separated the shop by sorting the stuffed animals grouping them together.  There was a self service feeding station where you could scoop "pet food" (actually colored macaroni from a sensory bin) into pet food bags from Playing Pretend - Animal.  This area was a huge hit and the younger set pretty much scooped "food" the entire time.

The kids hung price tags from many of the pets.  The printable receipts from Playing Pretend - Animal was also lots of fun. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wax Leaves and More

This is an activity that I used to do as a child.  Until we tried it ourselves I could not remember why we thought it was so great.  As the project progressed I quickly remembered why...

Step 1:  Head outdoors and collect flat, dry leaves.  Oak and maple leaves worked well.  We also collected acorns and some mums.

Step 2:  Heat up some wax in a recycled can.  Put a little water in a small pot.  Put the wax inside the metal can.  Put the metal can in the water.  This is your make shift double boiler.

Step 3 (optional):  Draw on leaves with paint pens.

Step 4:  An adult removes the metal can and carries it to table.  The child uses a paint brush to paint on the waxy coating.  Once dry, the leaves feel very smooth and will be preserved.  We even dipped flowers and acorns in the wax.

STEP 5 (THE SUPER FUN PART THAT I REMEMBERED):  Once the wax has cooled to the touch, start dipping your fingers into the wax.  It feels soooooo good.  My kids of course had to take it a step further and make waxy hands.  When you peel it off in once piece it makes this really cool impression of your hand, the wrinkles in your hand and your skin.

This was a fun Fall activity that we all got involved in.     

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Making Flavored Ice Cubes

A few weeks ago we made some flavored ice cubes.  My son started out with a few different flavors of Kool Aid and added sugar to make it sweet.  He poured the different flavored Kool Aid into ice cube trays and abracadabra flavored ice.  We added it to seltzer and water to create delicious, pretty drinks with much less sugar than soda or a full cup of Kool Aid.  The kids loved adding a variety of flavors to create their own "specialty drinks".   

We also landed up making flavored ice cubes with straight lemon juice and lime juice.  These were also delicious to create a refreshing lemon and/or lime drink with no sugar.  

If you ask my son, he had the most fun mixing up all the different colors of Kool Aid into one pitcher - see the resulting brown Kool Aid?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Slime Jack O'Lanterns

Slime jack o'lanterns are a fun project for the Fall.  Using the Borax recipe for slime we made orange slime or flubber.  Basically squeeze 8 ounces of Elmer's glue into a bowl.  Add orange food coloring.  In a separate jar mix 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp. of Borax powder.  Let the child shake the jar to mix the Borax.  Pour the Borax mixture into the glue bowl and start mixing.  Take out the slime and put on a tray or plate.

We used cut up fun foam to make different jack o'lanterns with the slime.  We added some green colored dried pasta for the stem.

Lots of Fall fun!

The activity encourages:
  • science skills (you can discuss liquids to solids)
  • muscle strengthening in the fingers and hands
  • creativity
  • sensory play

Friday, September 28, 2012

Body Awareness Art

 Here is a fun, cute project to work on body awareness.  The child should lay down on large paper.  Trace the body, identifying the body parts as you trace around each one.  Now let the child paint the body however they would like.  Once dry an adult can cut it out and hang it on the wall.  Review all the body parts on the art work and the child.  This was a entertaining project for a two year old and educational with a lovely end result.

This activity encourages:
  • body awareness
  • creativity

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn Displays for Kids

I have been behind on blogging since back to school - very busy here at our house.  Today we enjoyed an outdoor activity with our pool noodle parts and Autumn materials.  We collected mums, leaves and twigs to create Autumn floral displays.  You just need to pinch off the bottom of the flowers or leaves so that the child can poke the flower into the cut up pool noodle.  Encourage the child to use the thumb and index finger to grasp the stem of the flower to poke it into the Styrofoam of the pool noodle.  The youngest child simply placed her flowers in the larger hole.  This was a simple, low cost activity with a nice end result to display on your table.  If we had time, we would have extended this to pretend floral shop to "sell" the beautiful arrangements.

This activity encourages:
  • creativity
  • outdoor time
  • fine motor skills especially the pincer grasp
  • eye hand coordination

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Body Painting

This was a fun outdoor activity we did today - body painting.  First we were painting the bottoms of our feet and making prints.  But then the toddler just wanted to paint other people's feet or her own.  We had a bucket of water close by so anyone could wash up when done.  The toddler loved painting her own feet and cleaning them off.  In toddler fashion, this dirty/clean cycle was repeated many times (anything with water is always a huge hit).  This activity could be done indoors but so much easier outside.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade "Nail Polish" for Toddlers

My little toddler LOVES to get her fingernails polished.  One day we were making some homemade paint and we realized it would work great as pretend nail polish.  It was some corn starch and colored water.  She really enjoyed "painting" my nails.  The corn starch made it dry hard on my fingernails but it washed off with ease.  She even got to paint her own nails.  This was a super simple activity that entertained her for quite some time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Toddler Time: Hide and Seek

I am all for keeping it simple and this activity certainly keeps it simple. No materials or preparations are needed. All hide and seek requires is your time. When you stop to think about all the benefits of hide and seek it is really a learning game for little ones:
  • visual perceptual skills - the child must visually scan an area looking for you.  If they see just a little bit of you they must use his/her visual closure skills to determine where you are.  
  • counting skills - when someone is hiding, counting out loud to any number helps to establish early math skills
  • emotional health - you and the child are separated for a time and then back together again in a  fun and playful manner!
  • auditory skills - maybe you need to make a noise to help them find you.  The child needs to use the ability to listen closely to find you.  
  • motor planning skills - the child must plan which direction to go to find you and then execute that action
  • physical activity - all that running and hiding is a great aerobic activity
  • helps to develop a sense of autonomy - the toddler is left alone and must determine how to find you.  Once the child is successful in finding you, the pride and independence shows on his/her face.  They did it themselves!
So it might be simple, but for no money and just your time, your little one will experience a multisensory cognitive, emotional and physical activity.  And, you thought hide and seek was just a game.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Surfing on Dry Land

Watch this quick video on how the kids came up with surfing on dry land.  This was a lesson in engineering, design, balance skills, imagination and loads of fun!!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playing to Get Ready for a Doctor's Visit

If your child is fearful about going to the doctor here are a few tips to prepare your child through play for a doctor's visit:

1.  Play pretend - Start off by using a pretend doctor's kit (homemade or store bought) to check a stuffed animal or a doll.  The child can watch you check the doll or let the child check the doll.  The next step for your child is to observe you checking another person, perhaps an older sibling or another adult.   Let the child have a turn being the doctor checking stuffed animals, dolls and people.  When the child is ready, role play that you are the doctor and check your child.  While you are role playing make sure you explain what you are going to do before you do it.  This will help to eliminate fear in the child.  

2.   Read books - Read books about going to the doctor such as Curious George goes to the Hospital or The Berenstein Bears Go to the Doctor.

3.  Write a story - Write a story about going to the doctor.  You can use google images to add pictures for your child or simple illustrations.  The text can include phrases such as:
  • We are going to see Doctor _________.
  • They will bring you into a room.
  • They will weight you and check your temperature.
  • He/she will look in your ears, eyes and nose.
  • The doctor will listen to your heart and lungs.
  • They may give you a shot.
  •  When you are done you will get a sticker.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Toddler Time - Giant Abacus

Next time your toddler needs something to entertain him or her, try setting up this giant abacus.  All you need to do is grab items from around your kitchen that have a hole in them.  Here we used cookie cutters, paper towel tubes, measuring spoons, cups and pastry brushes.  Lace a string through all of the items.  Tie the string to two large chairs to hang the abacus.  Make sure you hang it above the toddlers head so they do not get entangled in it.  Also, be sure to remind the toddler not to pull on it or the chairs will fall over.  

Once all set up, the toddler can enjoy sliding the items along the string while you count out loud as the items are moved.  

This is a nice early math skill activity that you can sneak into play time.  Not too mention all the physical activity, coordination and motor control that is involved in reaching, grabbing and sliding the objects. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Homemade Play Dough You Can Eat!

This edible play dough was actually created out of necessity.  My littlest one is currently crazy about using play dough but we were running low.  We decided to make a new batch but realized I did not have enough salt.  I did have lots of butter though!  Why couldn't we make cookie dough to look like play dough.  We used a sugar cookie cutter recipe adding a little extra flour.  I am sure you could use the pre-packaged Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix if you wanted to make it even easier.

Once the dough was mixed, we divided it into four sections.  Adding about 10-15 drops of food coloring per section we colored the dough into four different colors.  Use a spoon to mix in some of the food coloring first and then mix with your hands to really knead in the color.  Be sure to use that spoon first though or you will stain your hands with food coloring.

After we were done coloring the dough we wrapped up each section in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for two hours.

After the dough chilled we were ready to use the play dough.  Using rolling pins and cookie cutters we shaped our dough into snakes, ladybugs, strawberries, flowers and more.  We even baked a few in small cupcake liners to make pretend cupcakes (which came out very pretty and tasty).

Into the oven they went at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes and onto the cooling rack when done.

Then it was time for the tasting which was the best part!  They were delicious!!!!!   

Read another post about making pretend candy with play dough.


Friday, August 10, 2012

My First Matching Game

Set up a sensory box for your toddler to explore same and different.  Here we collected items from around the house that were all the same.  Some of the items we collected were: paintbrushes, toilet paper tubes, sponges, cups, lids, felt scraps, plastic spoons, popsicle sticks and straws.  The toddler explored the sensory box and attempted to match up the items that were the same.  She also enjoyed just playing with the items especially the paint brushes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Taking Pretend Play Outdoors

Taking pretend play outdoors can encourage children to explore dramatic play in a whole new way.  Here we created an outdoor tree swing for baby and a slide.  My little one pushed her baby doll in the stroller over to her "pretend park".  She fed baby, pushed her on the swing and helped her down the slide.  All things she sometimes needs help to do at the park but now she got to help baby.

For the young boys there are many activities to facilitate dramatic play.  How about being a forest ranger.  Grab some pool noodles to pretend to chop down trees.  Gather sticks to start a pretend fire.  Hike around searching for animal tracks.  

Keep it simple and just bring some small toys outdoors.  Toy dinosaurs would love a small mud pit.  Push toy motorcycles on a dirt path.  Barbie dolls would love to lounge and swim in a bucket of water. 

Read about more outdoor imagination activities in a previous blog post. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

5 Creative Computer Activities

As much as I want children to play outdoors and experience daily physical activity you also need a balance in life.  Technology is large part of our culture.  Of course, I also want children to be proficient in computer use.   What I mean by proficient in computer use is know how to use the tools a computer has to offer.  I do not mean how to play video games or access social networking sites.  There are so many ways to learn how to use a computer and basically practice is probably the best.  We all learn by doing not by watching.  Learning word processing and keyboarding is a must but that is not always fun or exciting.   Sometimes it is nice to step outside the box and try out different fun tools.  Here are 5 websites to visit for creative computer learning:

1.  MakeBeliefsComix:  This website is awesome.  It is free to use different comic book characters, scenes and props to create your own comic strips.  It is simple to teach yourself and the end result is really professional looking.  My children have used this website to add a fun visual for poster presentations.

2.  Scratch:  If you want to get into the basics of computer programming you can download Scratch for free.  You can create interactive stories, games, music and art.  We have used this to make short movies.  It is definitely for an older child or a child who is savvy with the computer already.  Again, the end results is really nice.

3.   Blabberize:  This website is creative and entertaining.  You can make pictures talk.  It is pretty funny.  My children have used this to make pictures of historical figures speak.  

4.  TheArtZone:  This website allows you to create interactive art online.  You can create animated story boards with pictures that are already available to you.  You can explore many different art forms right from your computer.  This website is simple to use with basic directions.

5.  TuxPaint:  This is a free open source drawing program for children.  What a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of graphic design.

What are your favorite creative computer activities?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Simple Fishing Game

So we made some bow and arrows the other day which you can read about here.   After awhile of shooting arrows, the children took the bows apart and started using them as batons pretending to march in parades and do dance moves.  I love when toys take on new roles.  Well, this morning the toy became a fishing rod.  They attached the string back on one end and placed a magnet on the other end.  After twisting some pipe cleaners into fish shapes, the fishing game was ready to play.  They caught fish, pretended to be in a boat and practiced "casting".  The older kids enjoyed the challenge of catching the fish from afar.   The toddler loved going up close to catch the fish and was so proud she could finally fish like the big kids do when we go camping. 

Therefore, in total, the kids made three toys out of the same materials that originally cost about $2 for the parts.  Now that is some economical problem solving!

One more thing - if interested just came across the cutest free printable to go along with the fishing game - Fishing bingo.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Toddler Time - Simple Sensory Path

Need a quick toddler activity indoors to burn off some energy?  Set up this simple sensory path.  Gather objects from around your house.  We used some bath mats, the top of a ottoman, rug grippers and a baking cooling rack.  Off came the shoes and down the textured path the toddler went.  We practiced following simple motor commands - go and stop.  After repeating several times, the toddler decided to crawl along the path getting some wonderful sensory input to the hands as well. 

Super easy, super simple and fun idea to get your toddler moving and exploring the senses. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Make Activities Reusable with Wipe Off Markers

Do you have mazes, worksheets or maybe pretend pages from GrowingPlay?  Check out these ideas to make some simple alternatives using wipe off markers and cheap supplies from the office store instead of lamination or loads of color printing.

When we tested them all out, we found the binder slant board and the report book worked the best.  They were the easiest to write on and erase.  The laminated sheets were the hardest to erase but you could still erase them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pretend Play Plus Sensory Play = FUN!

Combining pretend play with sensory exploration is loads of fun.  We love to add pretend props to mix up sensory activities.  Today, the dried beans were "cooked" on the cardboard stove top and mini bean muffins were "baked" inside the oven.  As children get older they can expand their play repertoire and you can help by adding props with the sensory materials.  Here are a few examples:

  • add small pots and pans to "cook" different sensory materials
  • add small dolls or characters to explore the materials ie make mountains to climb or tunnels to explore
  • add real items ie ice cream cones with play dough
  • add cupcake liners and beads to make cupcakes to sell at a pretend bakery
The opportunities are endless when you combine pretend play with sensory materials.

Check out GrowingPlay for more pretend play ideas and some free printables.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Toddler Time: Semolina Sand

Here is a quick, simple recipe to make play sand.  Grab some semolina flour from your pantry and mix in some cooking oil to make it a consistency of wet sand.  That's it!  Stick your hands in and start building sand castles.  Just use kitchen utensils to play with your sand and to build castles.  Measuring cups worked great to make three tiered cakes.  I would have photographed a cake, but each time we made one the toddler "cut" it all up before we could get a picture.  Oh well, fine by me it entertained the toddler for quite some time.  I do suggest playing with it outdoors or put a sheet down before you start.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

Do It Yourself Amusement Park

Looking for something to do?  Suggest to the kids to make their own amusement park.  My children invented the games above: twisty swing, sled carry and the roller rider.  They created their own fake tickets to sell and gave the younger kids rides all afternoon.  In addition, they opened up a snack bar with signature drinks (lemonade and sunny D was popular with a splash of seltzer).  Some nice free outdoor fun created by kids when left alone.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pretend Play Makes Better Thinkers

Recent research from the University of California Berkeley indicated that children who were better at pretend play were better at thinking about different possibilities.  By imagining the way things will work, children try to predict if what they are doing will work.  Then when done pretending they can compare their results to real life experiences.  The researchers speculate that pretend play is what helps make humans so smart.

Reference:  Gopnik, A. Let the Children Play, It's Good for Them! Retrieved on 7/18/2012 from 

Check out GrowingPlay for loads of ideas to play pretend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"But I am good at it on the Wii..."

I had an interesting observation today while playing with two of my children.  We decided to make some bow and arrows that we found on Pinterest from Craft, Interrupted.  We changed it up a bit but not much from her original directions.  Using blue plastic piping, PVC caps and some string we made the bow and arrows (which we had a lot of fun creating).  We headed outdoors to test out the new devices.  After two failed trials both of my children seemed super frustrated.  This made me a tad frustrated.  How did they expect to be good at something right away and especially archery.  I gave a little "it takes practice" pep talk.  Then my daughter states "but I am good at it on the Wii"! I continued to remind them that it required practice and they plodded on.  After many trials they were able to do it and they were extremely proud and quickly showed off their new talents to their older sisters.  But, I am sure that had I not encouraged them to continue they would have given up.

Later in the day this gave me something to think about.  Does video gaming, particularly active video games, influence children's abilities to learn "real" motor skills?  The Wii and the iPad are relatively easy to control with a very small learning curve.  You can have success with many games after very little practice.  Perhaps you do not have 100% success but you can improve rather quickly with practice.  

In real life this is not the case when it comes to developing motor skills.  Developing the skills necessary to hula hoop, juggle, ride a bicycle or use a bow and arrow require hours and hours of practice.  Do children get frustrated easily since they can do it on the Wii and not in real life?  Why bother trying only to fail or not progress quickly? 

My hope is that children realize that accomplishing the real motor skill is more satisfying and fun.  Unfortunately, this may not be the case.  Children spend less and less time outdoors.  Do they even have to time necessary to work on these motor skills?  In our house, the children have limits on their "electronic time" as we call it.  They average about one hour per day where they can choose to watch television, use their itouch, use the computer or play the Wii.  Based on statistics though, we are well below the average "electronic time" usage for children especially adolescents.  What about the upcoming generation of toddlers who are exposed to tablet devices at such a young age?  Will it influence their frustration levels with print books?  If a digital book can become animated with a touch of a finger, will children eventually dislike plain old print books?

I truly hope all the answers are "no" to my questions regarding the influence of electronic gaming on children.  Nothing beats the feelings of satisfaction when you learn to ride a bike, juggle some balls, read a book or shoot a bow and arrow.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Toddler Time: Rides

Need to entertain your toddler for a few minutes?  Bring them on a toddler ride in the laundry basket.  Stop and start the laundry basket slowly which will challenge the little ones balance skills and strengthen the trunk muscles.  You can encourage language by waiting to start the toddler ride until the little one using baby sign language or says the word "go".

When done giving the toddler a ride, find some stuffed animals to put into the basket and the toddler can give the toys a ride. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tiny Toy Land

My children built a small outdoor landscape for their small toys to live in this past weekend.  There was a natural nook in the tree stump to create a small shelter.  After hunting for some furniture (bark and rocks) the tiny toy land was ready to play with.  Most of the entertainment was creating the tiny toy land but it was fun to check on it all weekend to see if any real creatures decided to stop by and make it home.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Animal Detectives - Free Game to Print

If you want to challenge your your child's visual perceptual skills, visual closures skills and encourage physical activity download this free printable game.  The kids will love guessing what animal is hiding in the grass!  You can download it for free at GrowingPlay.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Toddler Time: Dried Bean Play

Of all the things my children have enjoyed playing with through the years the dried bean container is in the top three most favorite "toys".  Toddlers especially like to pour, sort, scoop and touch all the beans.  If you provide kitchen items the beans make a nice plinking noise as you pour them.  You do have to watch closely that they do not mouth any of the beans.  I usually put a sheet down on the floor for easy clean up when done.  Close up the container and save for the next time you need a quiet, engaging activity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Freebie Playing Laundry Shop Printables

Print these two free fun pages to play pretend laundromat.  This is a functional pretend play activity.  A child can work on sorting and counting laundry while using their imagination to open up a "laundromat".  You can download the pages at GrowingPlay.

This activity encourages:
  • pretend play
  • imagination
  • literacy
  • math skills
  • writing skills
  • functional skills 
  • sorting
  • role playing

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Running Bases Game

Running Bases is a great classic game that I played frequently as a child and my children play now.  Here is how you play:

Preparation:  Head outdoors and find two trees at least 40 feet apart.  If trees are not available, put out two bases or cones.  Grab a ball to toss, something that won't hurt if someone gets hit by it.  

Players:  You need at least 4 players for Running Bases.  Assign two players to be the catchers.  They each stand at a different base.  All of the other players pick a base to start out at.  This game is best suitable for ages 5+ years old.  

How to Play:  On "GO", the catchers toss the ball back and forth to each other.  The players must run to the opposite base.  If the catchers throw the ball back and forth three times all the players have to run to the opposite base therefore running players can not stay at one base for too long.  The object is to get to the opposite base without getting tagged by the ball. 

If you are tagged by the ball you become a catcher.  You can set the rules in the beginning of the game whether you can actually hit runners with the soft ball or whether the catcher has to touch you with the ball.  

So head outdoors this weekend, to play outdoors the classic game of Running Bases.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Toddler Time: Stacking Cups

After stacking all of our cups to see how high we could go, my toddler loved watching us stack the cups so she could knock them all down.  She would wait patiently while we stacked and then knock them down with all of her might.  She kicked them, squashed them and tossed them all over the room.  Nice cheap activity to entertain a little one. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

How High Can You Go?

Try out this challenge... how high can you stack layers of small plastic cups and cardboard and balance on it without crushing it all?  In our house, the 50 pound child was able to stack 4 layers of cups and cardboard and balance on it without breaking the tower down.

This was a great project to explain weight distribution and it was just plain fun!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Colorful Slime

I have seen many recipes for slime on the internet and in books so we figured we would try it out.  This was so simple and fun.  Just combine equal parts clear glue and liquid starch (found in the laundry aisle at grocery store).  Mix them together.  Then separate the slime and add food coloring to each smaller batch.  We only used one food coloring drop per small batch. 

We used our hands to mix in the food coloring and then it was squish time.  The children enjoyed squishing the slime through their fingers and trying to mix up the colors.  The longer you mix it together the thicker it gets.

This was a fun project to do that was a different consistency than gak, flubber and play dough.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Target Practice

Here is one of the games my son set up at his recent birthday party.  He turned over a Styrofoam cooler, pushed 5 golf tees into the bottom and balanced 5 ping pong balls on top of each golf tee.  Using a water gun from about 5 feet away, we timed how fast each player could shoot off each of the ping pong balls.  All the boys gave this game a thumbs up!

The game encourages:
  • fine motor skills
  • eye hand coordination skills

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Toddler Time: Bottle Bat

Here is a simple toy to make with recycled items from around the house.  You will need a two liter bottle, paper towel tube, duct tape and colored cotton balls or pom poms.  

Put colored cotton balls or pom poms inside the two liter bottle.  This is just to add some visual fun therefore you can skip this step if you would like.  Fold the paper towel tube in half and shove it inside the top of the 2 liter bottle.  Wrap duct tape around the bottle top and the cardboard tube.  This will secure it tightly to the bottle.  Now your bottle bat is ready to play with.

The toddler can bang it on the floor or try to hit a ball.  It makes great noise and is fun to look at.

If an older child wants to use it as a bat, head outdoors.  This bat hits balls pretty far so do not try it indoors. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Games to Play for July 4th

Check out these 5 fun games to play on July 4th.  It does not get any easier than this - just print and play to start celebrating Independence Day.  You can download one game for free - Red, White, Blue, Flag. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Small Hands Creating Hope

Small Hands Creating Hope is a project started by MaryAnne at  As a survivor herself she reached out to many bloggers to submit children's projects that symbolize hope in the face of cancer.  When I read her blogpost I knew I wanted to participate.

As a 10 year survivor myself, courage, hope and love is crucial to beating this disease.  I was diagnosed with lymphoma the same week I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant with our second child.  After refusing doctor's recommendations to terminate the pregnancy, I was followed closely by top oncologists from the NY metropolitan area.  At 20 weeks pregnant, I still was losing weight and sick.  My doctor wanted one more MRI before he started chemotherapy while I was pregnant.  Miraculously, my MRI showed that the cancer in my neck, chest and arm had become smaller!  The doctor's chose to hold off chemotherapy and I delivered a full term healthy baby girl.  Starting chemotherapy with an newborn and a 19 month old toddler was no picnic.  But prayers, courage, hope and love helped us all through it.  Now, 10 years later I have a wonderful, spirited 10 year old girl who God has great plans for in this life, a 12 year old daughter, 8 year old son, 6 year old daughter and a 21 month old baby girl.  My husband and I have been so blessed.  As the phrase goes "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger"!!!!

For my submission to the ebook we created charms, keychains, bracelets or necklaces out of metal washers.  

Mamasmiles is sending the ebook version of this book out to anyone who donates at least $15 to the American Cancer society. An email with the download link, as well as a second link that allows you to purchase a hard copy of the book for an additional $10.52 will be sent once we receive your donation. There are close to 40 bloggers who have participated in this project.  The ebook is loaded with projects that young children can create to give to a loved one with cancer or in memory of someone who had cancer.   

Donate to the American Cancer Society

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Character Trait Report Card

Why not try letting your child be the teacher the next time you read a picture book or any book.  Download this character trait report card and complete it after reading a story.  You could also take the time to relate it to your child's life by discussing important character trait or people you know who display excellent character traits.

If your child likes pretending to be the teacher check out the Pretend Play School Packet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Toddler Time - Water and Rock Sensory Play

I am all about keeping it simple with toddlers.  There are so many things to entertain toddlers that do not involve bells and whistles.  We all know water is probably the biggest entertainer of toddlers.  Here I just added a few rocks of different sizes, a small cup and an inch or two of water in a large kitchen container.   We headed outdoors with it and the toddler had lots of fun, motor skill practice and learning - scooping water, dropping rocks, splashing and exploring the weight and texture of the rocks.  

After this initial play phase we added in some small, play toy animals.  I thought she would enjoy this change.  Come to find out she just took all of the animals out and continued to play with the rocks and the cup.