Toddler Blog

Category - Play

Pom Pom Play!

We love Pom Poms because they keep little bodies busy for a long time. You’ve seen these at the store, but did you know you can use them for a lot more than just crafting?

– Practice sorting them with toddlers. Sort by color or size. And use salad tongs or tweezers to sort for an added challenge!

– Get silly and sort them with your toes! Put some cups down on the ground and kids will get a kick out of filling the cups up with poms using only their feet!

– Move them using only your breath! Just like you are blowing out birthday candles, you can blow them across a table or floor. Make sure you are behind, not above the pom, to make it race the fastest!

Beat Balloons!

Meet the Beat Balloons! Balloon fun reaches new heights when they’re filled with small household finds. Not only will your little bean be able to peek through and investigate what object is hidden inside, they’ll also be able to hear it once they give it a shake!

We filled our balloons with sprinkles, Qtips, cotton balls, dry pasta, old buttons, small toys, and more. And we made two of each so we could also play with matching the pairs that sounded alike!

Stretch your balloon out a bit before filling it with a tiny treasure and air. And of course, please supervise littles when they’re exploring balloons and small objects.

TAKING IT OUTSIDE! A Quickie Toddler Outdoor Activity Guide

Sensory Bin Pic

Have toddler and need a fun activity to do to get that little one in the fresh air? Look no further! Here’s your quick reference guide to TAKING IT OUTSIDE! And many of the props mentioned below can already be found in your house or at your local bargain store. So get to playing!

Make your own sensory bins! You can fill one with a few inches of water and a second with dried lentils or sand. Let the kids use measuring cups and funnels with it. I’m never surprised at how long sensory bins keep toddlers engaged. There’s so much to feel, explore, and learn as they splash, pour, and play!

Use a parachute! They may be too big for most indoor playtime, but they are perfect taken outdoors. You’ll just need an extra helper (maybe an older sibling) to help raise and lower the chute. Your little one will love dancing underneath the rainbow of colors. Or you can also have your tot sit on top of it while you shake it below them, making waves!

– Use pots and pans, shaker eggs, or toy instruments to make your very own marching band! Play with different speeds as well as curvy backyard paths. Stomp your feet, bang your instruments, and make a loud ruckus that being stuck indoors wouldn’t allow you to.

Blow bubbles! They never get old. Race to pop them with your fingers or have your kiddo lie on their back on a beach towel and try to pop them with their toes! For big bubble fun, fill a kiddie pool (or large container) with bubble solution and grab some giant wands from your local toy store. The whole neighborhood will want to come over for the bubble magic!

– Do some messy painting!  Use a large craft paper roll tucked under 2 lawn chairs a few feet apart. This oversized canvas will inspire even your littlest Picasso. Brushes, stampers, and Qtips all work great, but the best part is you can even use bare feet to paint! Just rinse those little toes in one of your plastic bins before going back home to keep the messy adventure strictly outdoors!

– When the weather gets hot, the smart get spray bottles! Get them from the 99cent store and use to water plants. Or encourage your little to cool off each individual body part. Sing “Head Shoulders Knees & Toes” as you go! And if you want to get even more more creative, add a little washable paint to your spray bottle to “spray paint” onto paper.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt! Seek out small household objects (just like you would with Easter eggs). Take turns hiding and seeking the different items on your list. Or simply use chalk to draw pictures for the your tot to “seek.” Hop to the yellow sun, run to the letter A, skip to the smiley face! Let them tire themselves out before nap time!

Encouraging Indoor Exercise

With temperatures dropping, it gets harder to keep kids moving when stuck inside! But we have some ideas to keep little ones working their gross motor skills indoors, come rain or shine. Read on and play along!

1. Use painters tape. Make a maze on the floor for kids to trace with their feet. Have them do it on one leg, all fours, and even backwards for an added challenge.

2. Use pillows. See how tall you can stack them together. Can your little balance on top of two or three or four? Give them a hand to high jump over a stack for heightened fun.

3. Use cardboard boxes. If you have a few, you’ve created a set of giant blocks to play with. Then line up flattened, skinny ones to use as a balance beam. Use thicker ones to create a ramp, then run and roll down the incline.

4. Use a ball. Practice throws are best saved for outside. But you can easily roll your way to some indoor fun by making your own bowling game. All you’ll need are some plastic water bottles to knock down. For bonus points, sit down and see if you can pass the ball from one player to the next using just your feet.

5. Use a jump rope. Wiggle it on the floor like a slithering snake for your young explorers to jump over. Raise it high to limbo low under. Brave players may want to pull it taught for a friendly game of tug of war!

The Imagination Station

When all the toys have lost their luster, and antsy littles are looking lost… It’s time for a trip to the The Imagination Station!

All aboard, because here, our favorite things can be used in a brand new way! Will you create a silly farm, a wild jungle, or maybe even a new planet? At The Imagination Station, the possibilities are endless!

Step 1 – Use a large roll or sheet of paper as a base. We put ours atop a giant table for more playing room. Now use crayons to decorate your giant paper as a backdrop! Are there clouds in the sky, animals on the land, or ships in the sea? It’s all up to you!

Step 2 – Add some texture to your masterpiece. One by one, we added stickers, googly eyes, pipecleaners, and blocks. Watch creatures form and buildings grow. Really any leftover art supplies, or odds and ends will do. The Imagination Station is the perfect boredom rescue!

Shape Snoop Snatch!

Learning takes on a new level of excitement when kids see how things can be found off the page and in real life! Just this week, a few rounds of SHAPE SNOOP SNATCH reignited our kiddos’ passion for shape recognition. A clock, a ferris wheel, and the moon all made circles enticing again!

Playing is easy! Snoop around (on tippy toes for extra sneaky snooping!) and start to investigate your little’s room, your house, then your neighborhood for each shape. Have your kiddo whisper “Shape Snoop” when they’ve found one. This is great practice in delayed gratification and using their words before action. Then only after you have snuck up on the shape and “caught” it together, exclaim “Shape Snatch!”

Little kids will need clues, or two distinct choices to pick from, when snooping a particular shape. Bigger kids will embrace the challenge of snooping a whole area by themselves. And the tongue twister of “shape snoop” versus “shape snatch!” will entertain all of you!

Right Brain Left Brain Challenge

When kids aren’t working from both sides of their brains, chaos ensues. Ever tried logic with a tantrum throwing tot?!

Our right brains are emotional and impulsive, and they often take over. While the left side of our brains are logical and organized, we still need the right for creative problem solving and for reading nonverbal cues. It’s a peanut butter & jelly situation. One can’t work nearly as well without the other!

But how do we encourage our kiddos to use both sides of their brain for optimum growth? Through play and games of course!

– Lead your little one to color or paint with their non-dominant hand. Or for double the fun, use both hands at once! It may be frustrating at first, but once they get a grasp of it, they’ll love the challenge.

– Move and groove while crossing the midline of the body. This twisting does wonders for brain development. Try marching and hitting each knee with the opposite hand as you go!

– Take a kids yoga class. Breathing boosts brain activity and standing on each limb individually will promote balance!

– Play ball! Run, throw, kick, and catch. Bonus points if you make sure to alternate which arm/leg is doing most of the work!

– Tell a story together! This simple, creative act will build communication skills, empower the imagination, and help you make awesome memories. Who knew playing make believe could do so much good for our brains? (Okay, we did!)

Spray Bottle Saturday

Next time your little one needs some weekend fun, get out a spray bottle and your imagination! You’ll be surprised at how much there is to do, when SPRAY BOTTLE SATURDAY comes to the rescue.

1. Make safe spray paint! Mix a 1/4 cup of cornstarch with 1 cup warm water and about 5-10 drops of food coloring. Then spray a large piece of paper or old sheet into a marvelous mural!

2. Water the plants! Can you spray just the roots? How about only the littlest leaves or largest petals? Your budding gardener will love the challenge.

3. Give your dolls a beauty treatment. Spray her hair, then brush and style it into your best coif creation! Add a couple tablespoons of fabric softener to your spray for extra stylin’ hold.

4. Play spray bottle freeze tag! Burn off some energy with a super speedy round. If you get sprayed, strike a funny frozen pose until you are sprayed free once more!

5. Target practice on tissue paper! Place different color tissue squares on top of white paper. Then spray each, one by one. Watch in awe as the colors run!

6. Aim for the alphabet. Use chalk to draw the ABCs on the ground. Then call out each letter and let your little spray it until it magically disappears.

7. Make the old new again. Spray an older painting to see how water affects the colors and changes the whole piece. Add your latest abstract, modern art to your gallery.

8. Try spray bottle science! Fill your bottle with 3/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a bit of paint. Squirt a pan full of baking soda and examine your experiment’s funny fizzle!

Upgraded PlayDough Play!

After a long day in the sun, sometimes you need some air conditioned fun… To keep littles’ boredom at bay, try our Upgraded PlayDough Play!

 

1. Work with a plastic fork and knife to practice cutting skills.

2. Take your leggos and plastic blocks to make different imprints in the dough. We like using a comb and rubber band too.

3. Rediscover your plastic animals and make fossil prints!

4. Roll tiny dough balls and practice counting, addition, and subtraction.

5. Roll long lines of dough and use them to make the letters of the alphabet or spell out your name.

6. Bust out some pipe cleaners, beads, and googly eyes to create your own creepy creature.

7. Add some essential oils or glitter for even more magical, Upgraded PlayDough Play!

Nature Scavenger Hunt

A trip to the park takes on a new sense of adventure when you create a NATURE SCAVENGER HUNT together!

First, make a list of things you want to seek. Littles will love to find different colors and shapes. But don’t forget to play with finding different textures too! We searched for things that were: fuzzy, smooth, rough, soft, and round.

Bigger kids can explore searching for manmade versus nature-made things. And everyone will get a kick out of finding something beautiful and finding something funny looking!

You can even include your other senses on your journey! Can you find something that smells wonderful or makes sound?

One of the best things we can teach our littles is to pay attention to detail. So get ready to see your local play spot with a fresh set of eyes. Your little explorer will learn and grow each step of the journey!