Toddler Blog

Messy Mondays!

Can we even put the words “toddler” and “manners” in the same sentence without making you burst into a fit of giggles?

Wiggle worms have a hard enough time sitting still, never mind remembering to use their forks. So sometimes the most effective way to teach a toddler table manners is to take a day off! Try your hand at it this “Messy Monday!”

– Spread your picnic blanket on the kitchen floor and get ready to have some foodie fun! Playing on the floor is an important step since it shows toddlers the physical difference between how we act at the table versus when we are playing down low.

– Eat everything with your hands, no utensils allowed. Or better yet, try your hands behind your back and eat just with your mouth! Foods like pudding and pasta noodles work best when trying to slurp up your super silly supper!

– For an added twist, serve the unexpected! Why not have pancakes for dinner? Or spaghetti for breakfast? No rules apply when you are making the most of your family’s Messy Monday!

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!

Tiny Tot Trees

Washable stamp pads are the latest craze around here. Because even the smallest toddler hands can make fantastic fingerprint art. So in honor of the Fall season and our littlest artists, we present TINY TOT TREES!

All you’ll need to make your own is brown & white paper, a brown marker, and washable stamp pads in any variety of Autumn colors.

You can have older kids draw or cut their own tree trunks and branches. Our students  here used rectangle paper trunks and circular tree tops to create theirs. Once the tree’s foundation is set, it’s time to have fun making all the leaves.

Encourage little ones to dip each finger in a stamp pad to see a variety of print sizes. I also like to encourage them to use their non-dominant hand to stamp too! Get both sides of the brain working. It’s a bit more challenging and a lot more fun!

For even more lovely leaf making, try dipping the ends of Qtips into each stamp pad. The teeny prints will add just the right touch to complete your growing Fall forest!

Family Apple Orchard

After an apple picking adventure, we decided to make our very own Family Apple Orchard. This seasonal craft is a crowd pleaser for Autumn lovers of any age!

Here’s what we used to play: A large piece of white butcher paper, brown construction paper, glue stick, bubble wrap, cotton balls, and washable paints in blue, green, & red.

Start by cutting tree trunks out of construction paper. These can vary in size and “grow” wherever your kiddos wants to “plant” them. Glue them down.

Next, paint your hands green! Use your various handprints to make your tree tops green! Tiny fingerprints in red add delicious apples to your growing orchard!

For a final touch, dip your bubble wrap into blue paint and press it down to create a perfect Fall sky. Cotton ball clouds complete your creation!