- Beans or some other small objects
- Egg carton
- Tray with lip
- Kiddo to occupy
Sometimes I just need to occupy one of the boys for a while so I can finish something up, but they want to be right by me. This simple activity is perfect and there is very little prep or cleanup, unless your grocery shopping helper grabs a bag of peas rather than beans like mine did – then you might be stepping on peas for a week!
In a tray on the table I set the peas in a bowl along with a spoon, an egg carton and sometimes a cup. My boys create their own activity to occupy themselves…scooping, pouring, counting…sometimes I give them many peas, other times only a handful. Every time it’s a great occupier!
Since typing this up I’ve also seen this on several blogs…I’m not original in my thinking!
I’ve seen a lot on mom blogs about activity bags to keep kiddos occupied. Cutie Pie has come up with something very similar all on his own. He calls them ‘kits’!
Cutie Pie was diligently playing by himself near the truck box. Hubby went over after he walked away and checked out the collection of vehicles. Cutie Pie said it was a ‘kit’ and was meant to be played with! He was a little perturbed that Hubby didn’t seem to know right away that he was supposed to get down on the floor and play!
Since then, we’ve seen several kits laid out on the floor. Some are all construction vehicles, others are a mix of cars and trucks, and still others are sorted by size! Every once in a while we even overhear him telling Sweet Pea that he’ll get a kit out for him to play with and Sweet Pea sits patiently waiting until his big brother tells him it’s OK to start playing!
I hadn’t really thought about setting out a particular grouping of toys hoping the boys would play with them, and I seriously doubt if I did that they would! However, it almost seems like sorting, classifying, organizing or whatever you want to call it comes naturally to Cutie Pie. Even when we are cleaning at the end of the day, most times things have to go to their ‘homes’ now, rather than just shoved somewhere to call things clean!
We have some very creative moms in the MOMs club I belong to. One mom in particular put together a great activity to supplement our open play time at a local playground. This particular play area is on the same grounds with a tennis court, a toddler path, soccer fields, pond and a beautiful garden area.
To begin our play time we had to pick up a treasure map and follow the dotted lines to the clues marked on the map with an X. The map led us all around the park and at each X there was a stamp for our treasure map (so we knew we had been there) and a clue written on a piece of paper. The clues were very cute poems either describing our next destination using descriptions of the surroundings, counting the number of steps to take in a specific direction, or some other super-creative clue. They were also relatively easy for the kiddos to understand and follow, which made it really fun for them in so many ways!
Once we followed all of the clues around bushes, over bridges, and down flowered paths with crazy me taking a ton of pictures, we found ourselves back at the main playground at the treasure chest! The boys each received a gold treasure coin and some Pirate’s Bounty pretzels. Several of the kids pretended they were pirates on ships when they returned to the playground, too! I love that it instigated pretend play!
The boys had so much fun searching for treasure that they often ask me when we are going to go to the park for another one or beg me to make one here at the house! She’s done several other supplemental activities like this and it really does make playground play more exciting!
I really wish I had saved the treasure map from this play time to share with you! Anyway, this activity seemed perfect for Columbus Day! Happy Hunting!
We’ve had a pretty dry summer here. This is a good thing because we haven’t had to mow the lawn for about 5 weeks, but our garden is suffering, along with many crops in the area. However, the other day it rained. (I wrote this before hurricane Irene. In this area we only had high winds and not the damaging weather Northern New York State experienced. My prayers are with those who are still dealing with damages from this hurricane, especially my friends and family in Northern NY.)
This was a good thing for us. The boys and I talked again about why rain is good for the ground, plants, animals and farmers (and have since talked about what happens when we get too much). All through the month of July while we watered the garden we talked about the plants drinking the water from the ground up and were careful to not water the leaves, but the roots to help the plants the most.
This summer it’s been fun watching the garden grow with the boys. We’ve got lots of tomatoes and peppers growing! What have you been growing in your garden? Have you had a great harvest this season?
We recently found the book Press Here by Herve Tullet at the library and I immediately fell in love with it! It actually took me a few attempts to get Cutie Pie to read it with me. Once he did he was in love with it too! It is a great interactive book, one that we can never seem to read only once at each sitting!
I’ve discovered some book publishers have activities related to the books they publish on-line, free for their readers. I looked for an already prepared activity for this book, and upon not finding one I decided it was easy enough for us to make our own spot books!
To make our spot books I simply cut card stock into quarters and made daubers, since we don’t have our own. (How to: I simply took bottle caps, wrapped them in half a paper towel, secured that with a rubber band and pressed the pad into the palm of my hand to make it round in shape. The excess paper towel made a great handle.) Then I put some watered-down paint on a paper towel, making a stamp pad if you will, and we made dots on the card stock, setting each page aside to dry. Once dry I bound them simply and we have our spot books! Cutie Pie even added words so his spot book became a story all his own.
I think we are going to keep this book as long as our library allows and then find it at our local bookstore!
We took a little road trip with the boys the other day and we all found ourselves doing a lot of counting.
Cutie Pie noticed we were going under a lot of bridges and signs that spanned the highway. He started counting “1,2,3..duck!” and expected everyone in the car to duck as if we were going to knock our heads on whatever our car was going under. Hubby and I started counting, too, sometimes way in advance to reach higher numbers. Soon both boys were counting with us!
Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea could definitely count higher that afternoon than they could in the morning – they got a lot of practice and it kept them very occupied on our car ride!
I came across some pics and draft posts that never made it to the blog. I’m going to work on sharing those with you this week.
Did you plant a garden this year? We have a salsa garden growing again this year, but we also tried to grow some hostas from seed. None of them grew, but the boys sure had fun planting them earlier this spring!
Cutie Pie was so very careful to poke a hole, drop the seed in and pat some dirt over it. Over and over again, and very careful each time and we counted as we planted.
He was also very good about watering the soil right after planting and reminding me to help him water them daily.
After about 8 weeks with no growth we decided something went wrong. I read about hostas in my garden book and think maybe it’s right – they are slightly hard to grow from seed.
Ack, we’ll probably forget and try again next year. It was a great lesson in following directions for Cutie Pie, as well as patience and handling disappointment!
Last night we had quite a thunderstorm. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it was the first in a while and it totally took Sweet Pea by surprise. I remember Cutie Pie not liking storms, but not to the same degree. Poor Sweet Pea was so scared that he climbed into Hubby’s arms, was shaking, and refused to get down. He wouldn’t eat his dinner, drink his milk, nothing! He would, however, hug Hippo, but that was about it until almost an hour after the storm passed. I’m not sure if he finally calmed down or if the special cookie that Hubby brought home for him coaxed him to eat his dinner…
How do you calm your kiddies down during a storm?
We’ve had some pretty rainy or cold and damp days here lately and I found myself bringing out some tried and true activities for the boys when I’m baked out, frazzled from trying to think of ways to keep them busy and we’ve gone to all the favorite places to play.
First, Sweet Pea asked for his pom poms and tweezers. I got them out along with a couple of big bowls and he sat and played for a very long time! (He prefers these tweezers that we have – they have a scissor-like handle and since using them he’s become good at cutting paper, too!)
The second activity I pulled out, and have relied on several times since the snow turned to mud, is the rice box! Of course, that means more sweeping for me, but it’s been a construction site, a place to practice pouring and a multitude of other things and mostly has been a huge form of entertainment for the boys!
I’ll be glad when it’s spring in more than name only, however, being stuck inside has led to opportunities to develop coordination, fine motor skills, gross motor skills (believe it or not!), social skills like taking turns…so I can’t really complain all that much!
So I mentioned earlier this week that we had a lot of snow after a terrific thaw, so I thought I’d share some pics. Not only did we have a lot of snow here, but 2 hours away while we were on our way to see my dad and my mom, and we ended up driving into a blizzard! It made a simple overnight trip quite an adventure!
My dad’s house is on a road that runs up the side of a steep hill (remember the photos I posted here from our last trip there?) As a kid I remember many days staying home from school because the bus couldn’t make it up the hill, and long, cold walks up the hill in sneakers after school when the plow hadn’t yet made it up the hill and I forgot to wear boots that day. Of course, I also got to ride in a snow plow once when it was arriving to plow the road at the same time the bus was! What an adventure! Growing up there playing in the nature surrounding me and the peace it afforded has offered many wonderful memories!
This particular weekend we made 5 attempts to make it up the hill to see my dad, the last being after dark, which hubby did not like at all! (Have you ever tried backing 1/4 mile down an icy hill where the sides of the road aren’t marked in the dark? Not fun!) Amazingly Cutie Pie fell asleep and missed the whole thing! Sweet Pea was awake in his carseat, and was very patient through the whole hour long ordeal! We ended up staying overnight in my mom’s one bedroom apartment. That was something we’ve never done before with 2 kids! This is what my car’s wheels looked like the next morning as we finally pulled into my dad’s driveway…
|As a kid my dad and neighbor built wooden ramps and a toboggan run down our back hill. The new neighbor made an awesome snow ramp for us!
|Grampa and Hubby trying to convince Cutie Pie how much fun sledding down a huge hill can be…they only went 1/4 of the way down, and Cutie Pie was not convinced!
|Back at home, following animal tracks. Poor Cutie Pie could hardly walk the snow was so deep, but enjoyed every minute of it! Loves his science!
|Sweet Pea saw his bike and was convinced he could ride it outside in the snow. He was wrong.
I’m participating in
It’s been so cold and snowy here lately that we’ve had to come up with alternative ways to get our kiddos moving and tired which is proving to be hard with this many days in a row indoors and with runny noses and coughs preventing us from going to fun places!
One thing that remains consistent is our kids’ desire to run around ‘the loop’ in our house. To encourage this tiring activity and add a bit of fun to the mix, Hubby taped one edge of a length of crepe paper to a doorway and held the other end making a finish line. Even though the boys weren’t racing each other, they each loved running through the finish line and seeing it fall as they kept running. I know the photo makes it look like it’s going to choke Cutie Pie, but believe me Hubby was holding it very lightly and more often dropped the crepe paper before they crossed the line (and heard about it from Cutie Pie!) And to see Sweet Pea’s coordination improving was great – he runs like a little boy, not a toddler! The next time we want these boys to get tired on a rainy day we will be pulling out the party supplies for more crepe paper for sure!
I’m participating in the following blog hops today. Hop along with me!
I saw this idea a long time ago on No Time for Flashcards. It’s a simple geoboard! The homemade one I saw used a larger board, nails and colored rubber-bands, but, since I was making this for younger kiddos than the one pictured on that blog, I made a few changes. I used small ponytail holders ($1 bargain area at Target), red thumbtacks (they have that little lip at top to help hold the ponytail holders on a little more securely) and a smaller board (because I know my preschooler would feel like he had to fill up the whole board and would get frustrated if it were too hard at first and might not try it again as happens with some fine-motor activities. I got the board for a couple of bucks at JoAnn’s.)
My kiddos love this! Every once in a while when it gets quiet, I find Cutie Pie on the floor playing with this or Sweet Pea ‘making a track’ on it. I’m so glad Cutie Pie didn’t get frustrated the first time using this and that they both find it a fun way to amuse themselves! Little do they know they are improving their coordination, using logic, math and a bit of science along with working on their fine motor skills!
One time Hubby saw the geoboard after the boys had gone to sleep and it had a ‘G’ on it. When he asked Cutie Pie the next morning what it was he said he made the ‘G’ because he wanted to! LOVE it! I think when I see his interest wain in this I will have him help make a larger one with nails and use colored rubber-bands with it!
Rainy….dreary….Sweet Pea with a cold…getting on each other’s nerves….Mom needs a quick, fun idea to fill the gap until rest time…….
I was amazed at how many places this little structure became all at the minds of my kiddos! At some time throughout the short time it existed we had a fort, a bear’s den, a reading nook, a hidey-hole, a ‘rest area’, a lion’s hide-out…and the list goes on!
We have a rule in our house that the pillows do not come off the furniture. I was really desperate, though, so I made an exception. Of course, I know that means this will happen again in the future, but hopefully only when I’m in dire need! But yet, they loved this so much, it would be worth seeing the excitement if I were to say yes when asked (which will probably happen tomorrow!)
Check out other ways little ones are playing over at We Play – Childhood 101!
What are some ways you keep your kiddos happy on rainy days?
It’s been rainy here yesterday off and on and so far today (yes, I know it’s still too early to say necessarily for today, but the droppy rain on my roof lulled me back to sleep for an extra hour after my alarm went off so it seems fair to say!) It’s also been a bit too chilly to go outside and splash in puddles like Sweet Pea, Cutie Pie and I did the last time it rained. That’s when I got this adorable pic of Sweet Pea trying to walk straddling the puddles and while trying to sing his ABC’s!
I will admit I was poorly prepared mentally yesterday for a ‘rain day’ and that it could have gone much better had I planned a little better and looked at my rainy day resources a little earlier. Speaking of that, I’d love to have more activities and ideas for my rainy day arsenal, as I’m sure you probably would too! Let’s share our ideas!
I don’t like it when it rains when it’s cooler out because my kiddos get a little ornery when we can’t get out. Actually, yesterday we did try to take a field trip to the hardware store, but Sweet Pea was already cranky enough to be very disagreeable to the point of making it a very likely terrible field trip. Instead we excavated some frozen dinosaurs, played trains, ran around the house ‘like ninnies’ (my word for in any crazy style you’d like) and spent a lot of time trying to keep Sweet Pea from crying and grabbing every single toy from his brother.
I’d love to hear ways you keep your kiddos happy on rainy days. Please share!
The other garden we planted in May: our vegetable garden, and yes, I am painfully aware this post was left out way back then, so here it is now with a recent photo so you can see our progress. Cutie Pie was a good helper to Hubby who plants a salsa garden every year. This year was the first year Cutie Pie was interested. Above he is pictured raking the garden just before the peat moss was added.
Here he is helping Hubby mix the peat moss into the soil to make a good base for the tomato plants and the two types of peppers that are now planted there. Of course, our garden dwarfs in comparison to our neighbors, which you can see in the background, although she does grow different crops and has been teaching our boys all about sharing – she had delicious strawberries this year and her raspberries were scrumptious!
And here’s our veggie garden now! With help of grass clippings for mulch, the plants have really blossomed! Cutie Pie’s proud he helped create this and loves the homemade salsa – another lesson in patience!
This is the first official week of We Play at Childhood 101
. I like to visit that site, so I thought I’d join their Tuesday posting of a play space we’ve enjoyed during the week. It is supposed to be a playspace at home, preschool, child care or kindy, so I’m including two since we are trying to play everywhere we can, not just at home (because I don’t do preschool with my 3 yr old yet) and I want to play by the rules.
The first is where we went today. It’s a favorite of Cutie Pie, a local hands-on science museum that currently has a traveling dinosaur exhibit. One of their permanent exhibits, if you will, is a sand and water tub where the boys head every time. The water is continually circulating and the main reason for the exhibit is to explain water erosion, among other things, but my boys just love playing in the water! I’m sure they see what happens to the sand when the water runs into it, and we do talk about it, but they really just have fun with it!
The second photo is our ‘gravel pit’ by our driveway. Cutie Pie is sooooo attracted to it to play with toys, and Sweet Pea for the gravel! And yes, his construction vehicles have a purpose there! Lots of pretend play and imaginary building go on here on an almost daily basis! Lucky for us (?) we don’t have a vehicle that needs to use this spot by our driveway as a parking spot! Talk about keeping the boys occupied for hours!
So, for other ideas on where to play “Come over and play at the Childhood 101
We Play link up” , click here
We had to get out of the house today. We decided since it was icky out we’d go to the pet store, a place Cutie Pie loves to visit, but doesn’t get to very often.
Today the hamsters were very active, so were the birds. We talked about what they were eating, where they might have thought they were going while running on the wheel and flying in and out of their nests. Cutie Pie had some great answers and reasons why! I asked Sweet Pea what the hamsters were eating and he said “Rocks”. Cutie Pie saw that they were eating corn kernels and we observed how they were eating them with their little pink toes, which were really pretty cute!
We also looked at the hermit crabs, which fascinated Cutie Pie as one of the videos we borrowed from the local library talked about crabs and their shells. Cutie Pie did a great job ‘educating’ me about how hermit crabs change shells as they grow, just like he learned in the video. He is such a retainer of information!
I set out the runny paint in cups. I set out the marbles. I set out the cake pans lined with paper. The kids came with their curiosity even though we’d done this several times before. I love it when something ‘old’ still captures their attention!
Today we attempted marble art again. Very simple preparation. Very simple art with neat results! Even Sweet Pea got in on the action lifting his plastic-ware container and rolling his marbles around in it after I rolled them in the runny paint and dropped them in his pan for him. (His coordination is excellent for a 16 month old, at least in my opinion!) Unfortunately, after about 3 minutes the marbles made it into his mouth and the activity was over for him as distraction with finger paints just didn’t do the trick, which I sort of thought would happen. His artwork was pretty neat, though!
Cutie Pie, on the other hand, didn’t want anything to do with the marbles today. He had seen the activity, got excited and then came to the table with his toy dinosaurs! (He’s so into dinosaurs lately I was sure this would happen sooner or later with something I tried!) Instead of trying to turn Cutie Pie back to the way I wanted the activity to go, I let him paint his dinosaurs and we talked about the colors dinosaurs might have been, whether they were bright colors or dull grays and greens and why it was possible. He had some great ideas! A bonus for him – he got to give his dinos a bath when he was done! (I tend to do messy activities like this while they are still in their PJs!)
We enjoyed a nice weekend visiting family in central New York State, where Cutie Pie hunted for fossils in the stone fence assembled near a swimming pool and Sweet Pea thoroughly enjoyed his first encounter with a cat. We also had the fortune of gathering with Nana, Papa, Aunt, Uncle and cousins on Easter to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection! It’s always fun seeing the cousins together as they are relatively close in age.
This morning was grocery day here since we were away for the weekend. Cutie Pie picked the letter Y to search for on our trip. He was very excited for some reason to look for the letter Y and kept mentioning it until we got there. Unfortunately, I forgot to remind him to look for it until we were halfway through the store. Fortunately, it’s a very big store! Cutie Pie did a great job finding Y’s, however, there just weren’t that many on signs or printed largely in our store and I had to help more than I have had to with other letters. I admit I was very disappointed! But he had a great time anyway, and was a big helper retrieving only the items I asked him to put in the cart, which is a big improvement over past grocery store visits! Sweet Pea also did a great job finding everything I asked him to find and point to….apples…bananas…eggs…milk…yogurt… he got very excited each time he saw the item, and even more-so when big brother put it in our cart! (Maybe he was hungry!)
I continue to look for activities to do with the boys, but find it harder to set aside the time to actually do them with the weather as beautiful as it is. I should get my act together and get organized because Cutie Pie actually asked if we were going to do an activity today! That was a first! Usually, I have been successful getting the activity ready without mentioning it and thus gaining their interest, but have never had one requested and never thought he’d be interested having just had such a non-routine weekend! Next time I will be more prepared!