Friday, March 30, 2012

Pretend Play Box - School

Pretend Play Box -School

What's Inside:  Inside this box is a home made clipboard (cardboard, contact paper and binder clip), large index cards, pencil box (recycled watercolor container), ruler, protractor, paper clips, set of dice, pointer, stickers, dry erase marker, eraser, name jar (popsicle sticks inside recycled Parmesan cheese container), pom pom jar (collect one pom pom for good behavior - fill the jar and have a pretend party at your school), prize jar (toy cars and rubber ducks inside jar) and some laminated printables from   Pretend Play School Packet (report card, behavior chart, lesson plan, attendance, weather, calender and a few more).
What They Played: The 18 month old loved putting the popsicle sticks in and out of the cheese container, pom poms in/out of jar, spilling the paper clips over and over onto the lid of the box and writing with a pencil on the clipboard.
The older kids set up doll school.  Using the pretend play school forms they reviewed the calender, handed out jobs, took attendance, gave stars for good behavior and completed report cards.  They wrote the doll's names on the popsicle sticks so that when it was time to take a turn they would just pull out a stick and call that doll's name.  Pom-poms were awarded and removed for good or bad behavior.  They created a few worksheets on the index cards for the doll's to complete.  Using the pointer, they brought attention to different areas on the weather chart.  All in all, it kept the kids busy for quite some time.
Sign for the Box:   If you are creating your own boxes I added the sign for the box to the document.  You can view it at Pretend Play Box - School Sign

View the Pretend Play Box - Newborn Baby 
Get the full download of Playing Pretend - School at

Thursday, March 29, 2012

DIY Rope Ladder for Indoor Active Play

Make this rope ladder for a couple of bucks using duct tape and rope.  Watch the video at to learn how to make the rope ladder and some suggested activities to get kids moving.  Great for indoor play on a rainy day!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Simple Egg Box

After getting some inspiration from this blog post about Easter ideas, I decided to make a simple egg box myself (keep in mind, mine does not look nearly as pretty as hers I cut corners whenever possible). 

I am always looking for simple ideas for my 18 month old to play with to keep her busy.  This was a hit.  It took me all of 2 minutes to create (hence why it does not look pretty).  I just used a knife and cut some holes in the top of a shoe box.  Two of the holes were meant to be tight for the plastic eggs so she could hammer the eggs into the box, instead of just dropping them in.  On the side, I cut out a little trap door to get the eggs out of.  For the 2 minutes of prep time, this kept her busy for about 15 minutes.  Well worth the investment of 2 minutes!

This simple egg box encourages:
  • eye hand coordination
  • language development: IN versus OUT 

If you wanted to make it harder, you could add some colored dots to the openings so the child would have to color match. Or maybe put numbers and the child has to put that many eggs in the hole.

Check out my toddler ideas board on Pinterest for more inspiration.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Love Geocaching!

I just love geocaching.  If you are not familiar with geocaching you basically go on treasure hunts to look for hidden canisters using a GPS device.  We use an app on the iPhone to find our geocaches and log which ones we find.  This last find on Friday was one of our best ever  - it was hidden deep inside a hollowed out tree trunk.  We actually had to use a flashlight to locate it.  My brave 10 year old daughter is showing off her dirty arm - she had it so far inside the tree trunk to grab it.  We all cheered when she finally pulled it out.  There was a few trinkets in it.  We traded in our trinkets (some lucky coins, silly bandz, etc) and left with the trinkets from the canister.  When done, we placed it back inside the tree trunk and went off to find the next one.  We found 2 of the 3 we set out to find on Friday.

Here is why I love geocaching so much:
1.)  Great for all ages.  You have to walk slow to follow the directions of the compass on the iPhone app.  This makes it easy to allow the youngest in the family (18 months) to keep up walking on her own.  The older kids are so engaged looking for the hidden treasures.

2.)  Short or long hikes.  We check out the geocaches before we leave.  Some days we have time for longer hikes some days only short treks.  We can usually find geocaches that are close to the starting point to make it an easy walk if necessary.

3.)  Satisfaction of finding the treasure.  We have gone on a few hunts and come up empty handed.  So when you go looking for one and find it (especially a tough one like inside this tree trunk) you feel a real sense of accomplishment.  In this day and age where every kid gets a trophy, the trophy starts to not mean so much.  Therefore, even the times we don't find the treasure it is okay because it makes the times we do find it all the better!  I am still feeling excited about our find on Friday and it is Sunday night.

Anyway, if you are new to geocaching you can find out more information here  If you are not new to it, I am hoping you are impressed with our tree trunk find using a flashlight!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pretend Play Box - Pet Show

Just got this done today.  Not doing too good with my goal of organizing activities but at least I did get another pretend play box completed.

Pretend Play Box - Pet Show

What's Inside:  Inside this box is two small stuffed animals with jointed arms and legs, scraps of fabric, small brush, two balls, tiny pet and some printables from Pretend Play Animal Packet (Pet Show sign, pet show awards, pet show registration form and judging forms).  I wanted to put in the jointed animals so they can be bendable if the kids wanted to do a talent category with the animals.  Animal puppets would be fun to include. 

What They Played: The 18 month old liked using the brush on the animals and enjoyed undressing them.  

The older kids registered the pets for the show and picked some friends to be judges.  They dressed up the stuffed animals.  The scrap fabrics that worked best were long so the kids could wrap it around the animal many times and just tuck it in.  The fabric that worked best was tulle.  This turned into a fashion show not just a pet show.

One participant used the balls to create a talent show and the other participant did gymnastics with the stuffed animal.   

After judging was completed, all the animals received an award.

Sign for the Box:   If you are creating your own boxes I added the sign for the box to the document.  You can view it at Pretend Play Box - Pet Show Sign

View the Pretend Play Box - Newborn Baby

Get the full download of Playing Pretend - Animals at 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bug Hunting

Here is a fun outdoor activity to get children moving their whole bodies - finger, hands, legs and eyes.  Get more details how to play at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter Egg Plinko

I got the inspiration for this activity from a Twitpic on Twitter. Basically we used a cardboard box opened up with the sides up. A child worked on pulling apart all the plastic easter eggs. We glued them down pressing hard to adhere each one. We added three slots to catch the ball at the bottom. Our Easter Plinko game was ready to play. Prop the game up against a bench, drop the ball and see where it lands.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Play Outdoors - Flour Socks

Head outdoors with some flour socks today.  All you need to do is take an old sock and pour some flour into it (about 1/2 cup).  Tie off the sock. 

 The kids can whack it against the ground to leave marks on the pavement, trees or big rocks.  Might seem simple, but the kids love playing with these.

Try having a throwing contest.  It is super easy to keep track of where it lands because it leaves a mark.  Challenge yourself how far you can throw it. 

We have always used just flour in the socks, but if your child is into smashing, try putting some sidewalk chalk pieces into the socks.  Smash them up with a hammer or rock and use them to leave colored marks.  

This activity encourages:
  •  physical activity
  • outdoor play
  • eye hand coordination
  • upper extremity strengthening (all that whacking against the pavement can lead to stronger muscles!)
Want more ideas like this to get kids playing, moving and developing to the full potential?  Check out the book Play, Move, Develop.

Shared this at the Get Kids Moving Linky

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pretend Play Boxes - Newborn Baby

I have officially decided I am going to try to organize some pretend play activities.  One reason is to clean up our pretend play supplies and keep them together.  The other reason is to be able to switch out toys easily.  Therefore, my goal is to organize one pretend play box a week using stuff from around the house plus any pretend play pages from GrowingPlay.  I know...not a very lofty goal but organization is not a strong trait of mine.  So here is box #1:

Pretend Play Box - Newborn Baby
What's Inside:  plastic doll, old baby blanket, wash cloth cut into 4 small squares, Q-tips, cotton balls, small baby soap container rinsed out and a few pretend pages from the Hospital and Doctor download.

What They Played:
The 18 month old loved washing up the baby using the water from the soap bottle (about one teaspoon) and a small washcloth.  Using the small washcloth and tiny bottle was essential.  There was so little water that the baby could not make that much of a mess (which was great since I was making dinner).  She was even squeezing the wash cloth out of the bucket and it was not dripping.

The older children used the forms from the packet that were inside the box.  They filled out the pretend birth certificate and the baby check up form.  The children love to play hospital with a pregnant patient so this box was a hit.    

Sign for the Box:  Why not follow along, trying to match my goal of one pretend play box per week and create your own pretend play boxes.  Click here Pretend Play Box - Newborn Baby to download the sign.

Head on over to Growing Play to get Pretend Play - Hospital and Doctor 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Outdoor Math Hunt

Here is a fun outdoor game to practice math skills.  We have played this before using cards and vocabulary words but figured we would change it up and practice math.  It works just like a treasure hunt.

1.  Head outdoors with sidewalk chalk.  Write the first problem i.e. 4+4=.  Continue creating problems and write the answers with a new problem underneath.  At the end of the hunt, write the final answer in the circle and the word PRIZE below.   

2.  Now time to go on the hunt.  Start at the first problem 4+4=.  Run to find the correct answer (8) inside the circle.  When you get to the correct answer, solve the problem below the circle.  Go and find the correct answer.  Continue until the child find the answer with the word PRIZE below.

Get creative where you write the problems.  Spread them out - try writing on trees and rocks.  It will all erase with a good rain fall.

The activity encourages:
  • math skills
  • physical activity
  • outdoor time 
Need more activities?  Check out Sidewalk Chalk Fun and Games or Scavenger Hunts

Keep Life Simple - Splash in Puddles

Outdoor Imagination Games

Finally, the weather appears to be getting a little nicer. After winter time, children just seem to relish in the sunshine and fresh air of the outdoors. Spring time is a great time to encourage your children to spend more time outdoors. Of course, you can do the obvious, bike rides, spring plantings, mud pies and puddles. Here are five outdoor imagination games that may spark some interest with children.

1. Outdoor Tea Party: Search the park or yard for smooth rocks to be the the plates. Find some circular rocks to be the tea cups. How about a fat stick for the tea pot. Serve up some acorn snacks as pretend food. Lay out a blanket and get the nature tea party started.

2. Nature Restaurant: Set up a pretend restaurant serving up mud pies, pine cones stew, rock soup, grass delight and more. Use your beach buckets for pots. Sticks can stir up all the special recipes.

3. Wilderness Family: Pretend that you live in the woods year round. Create a small fort outdoors in the woods or just drape a sheet on in between some bushes. Search for rocks, pine cones and grass to be your pretend food. Collect sticks to make a pretend fire to cook over and keep warm by. Make a bed of leaves to sleep on. Find a pine branch to be your broom. Pretend to go hunting for animals. Remember to stay in the fort during "storms" or if "dangerous animals" are lurking about.

4. Parade: Create instruments using items from nature - bang two rocks together, hit sticks together and grass blade whistles (personally never could do that but I know kids who can). March around the yard playing your homemade instruments.

5. Circus: Pretend to put on a circus show outdoors. Put jump ropes on the ground as tight ropes. Hang hula hoops from the trees to throw old stuffed animals through for the animal acts. Practice bike riding tricks i.e. ride with one hand, ride only pedaling with one foot, etc. Hula hoop or jump rope for long periods of time.

Children will not only benefit from the outdoor time but imagination fuels creativity and learning.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homemade Toy - Sock Blocks

Make some of these homemade sock blocks for playtime.  Great way to use up old or mismatched socks.  Find out how at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mini Sponges

Here is a simple but effective play idea for toddlers - mini sponge play.  
Check out for the details.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Water Bottle Run

We created a fun water bottle run on the refrigerator yesterday.  First cut the bottoms off of water bottles (adult job).  Then duct tape magnets onto the bottles.  We taped the magnets on so we can reuse them another time.  Arrange the bottles in order so that objects can fall through all the way to the bottom.  This was the fun of it - trying different objects to see what would work best.  We determined that pom pom balls worked the best along with small tin foil balls.  Marbles were too heavy and would knock the water bottles off.  Also, roll away (and under the fridge) if you missed the last cup.  The pom-pom's don't roll anywhere.  

Don't forget that for the last bottle, cut the top off of instead of the bottom to catch the pom-poms. 
We did try pouring water down the bottle run and it does work fine.  Just pour very slow and small amounts.  May want to put a towel on the floor though - you know kids and water nothing stays dry for long.

This activity encourages:
  • creativity
  • exploration
  • science fun
Visit for more fun activity ideas.

Friday, March 2, 2012

10 Games to Play with Plastic Easter Eggs

Here are 10 ideas and games to do with plastic Easter eggs (none of them include candy inside!)

1. Sensory Table Accessories: Separate the plastic eggs. Children can use them to dig in sand, beans or other tactile items. Put them in the water table. Some of the eggs have holes in the bottom and the water will drip out. Kids can cup the egg in one hand and pour water into with the other.

2. Seek and Match: Take several eggs of the same color. Using permanent marker, draw circles on one egg, dots on another one, triangles, etc. Separate the eggs and hide them. The kids have to find each half of the egg and match it up with the correct pattern.

3. Egg and Spoon Race: This old favorite is a relay race. Try to balance the egg on a wooden spoon and walk a certain distance. Don't let the egg drop off.

4. Egg and Hand Race: Have children complete an easy obstacle course holding one egg in each hand. The child has to cup the egg gently in the hand and don't drop the eggs.

5. Mini Golf Egg Race: Using small toy golf clubs, hit the egg through different obstacles.

6. Bucket Eggs: This is good if you have a LOT of eggs and a few kids. Separate the kids into two teams. Put a bucket in the middle of the yard. Assign each team certain colors i.e. team one is red and green eggs and team two is yellow and purple eggs. Scatter all the eggs around the yard. On "GO" each team must grab the correct color egg and toss it in the bucket. At the end of 1 minute whoever has the most eggs in the bucket wins.

7. Smelly Eggs: You will need the plastic eggs that have the holes in the bottom for this activity. Put different scents in each eggs i.e. cinnamon, cotton ball soaked in vanilla extract or lemon juice, lavender, etc. The child has to guess what scent is inside each egg.

8. Noisy Eggs: Put different small objects inside an egg such as rice, beans, dice, jellybeans, etc. Seal it shut with strong tape. The child can guess what is inside. Or make two sets of the noisy eggs and the child can match the eggs up with the matching sounds.

9. Egg Soup: Take a bunch of plastic eggs and separate them. Pretend to make egg soup. Add the eggs into a big plastic bowl. Practice stirring the eggs. When done, match up the eggs and place them in a small bowl to serve up your pretend soup.

10. Egg Color Hunt: Hide four different colored eggs in the yard or indoors. Announce to the child to find the eggs in a certain order in a certain amount of time. For example: Find pink, purple, green and yellow in 2 minutes or less. Child has to find eggs in that exact order.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pretend Play - Astronaut

Time for some imagination and pretending to be astronauts heading to outerspace.  There is a cardboard box with a paper plate on it and another box with a few colored circles - green for go and red for stop.  The kids loved playing in their rocket ship with their special suits on.

Once they landed it was time for a moon walk out of the space ship.  Lots of fun with simple props from around the house.  The astronauts suits are just paper bags with holes cut out for the face and arms.  Blast off!!!!