Who are the people in your neighborhood?

That you see and you greet each day.

One way to encourage your child’s development is to get out in the world.  By interacting with others, your child will observe how relationships work.  How to shake hands, how to say hello, how to be polite, how to make friends, how to end a conversation when someone is talking too much.  When you provide your child with different experiences he learns.  He takes it all in.  And when he’s ready, he will participate in those social experiences just like he learned.  From you.  So, the next time you are in line at the register, be kind to the grumpy teenager ringing you up, hold the door for someone, smile, say ‘Good Morning’.

And the morale of the story, greet everyone you see.  Be kind to others.  Be the person you want your child to be.  As mentioned, she is watching you.  ALWAYS.  And as she begins talking and imitating, you know just where her material will come from.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day.   If nothing else, celebrate by greeting someone.  You could also make these peace signs.

Now, go play!


Don’t forget to pretend.

It’s January.  The batteries are fresh and the volume is up.  Sometimes it can be hard to find something in the toy aisle at Target that doesn’t involve a blue tooth or laser beam.  As mentioned in a past post, when shopping for toys, whether it be for your own child or someone else’s (parents will thank you!), look for toys that involve the imagination. You’d be surprised when a child doesn’t know how to push a car around the kitchen floor because he is fixated on pushing the buttons that make siren noises and lights flash.   Pretend play is a crucial part of childhood.  It’s when a child practices fine motor skills as he pours invisible coffee into a cup, when she develops her communication as she talks to her stuffed animals, when he practices his balance while pushing a shopping cart around the kitchen, pulling items out of your pantry.  Pretend play encourages exploration and problem solving, strengthens memory skills, creates expectations to learn from.

You would be surprised what a child can do with an empty box, a few plastic cups, or a piece of tinfoil.  The next time you give your child something new, whether it is a toy or something you came across in the junk drawer, give it to them without saying a word.  Well, build it up with “ooohs and aaaahs” but then, let it go.  See where it goes.  And play along!  Blocks don’t have to be stacked and spoons don’t have to be just for stirring.  By allowing your child to play in their own way, you are strengthening their imagination and their self esteem, which in turn will lengthen the time they can play on their own!  Hellooo coffee time!

What is your child’s favorite non-toy item?  Pots and pans? Pinecones? The dog leash?

Now, go play!  And don’t forget to pretend.

Cloud Dough

Snow dough, blue dough, moon dough, glitter dough…

Whatever the day, mix up these 2 household ingredients for a safe to eat, fun to play, time for coffee activity!

4 cups of flour
1/2 cup of oil (olive, vegetable, canola, whatever is in your pantry)

Simply mix the oil into the flour, stirring at first, then mix with your hands.  It will become crumbly, but when molded together, it holds its shape.

Add a couple drops of food dye, edible glitter, cinnamon, ginger, peppermint extract, anything to set the mood!

Serve on a baking sheet with spoons, cups, cookie cutters, trucks, plastic animals, or legos.  Spark creativity and an invitation to play!


Now, go play!

It’s the Holiday Season

As an adult, it’s easy to become overwhelmed during the month of December.  For babies and toddlers, it’s exciting but also a lot to take in.  From auntie’s squeezing cheeks, to cookie after cookie, overload is an understatement.  Follow these favored tips from JCC Matters.

  1. Keep with your routine.  Set your clocks for naps and bedtime and stick to it.  You may be leaving some holiday parties early, but you’ll be thankful when you are enjoying a cup of coffee while playing Legos instead of fighting a sleep deprived tot to eat his Cheerios.
  2. BYOFood!  Picky eater on your hands?  Bring a dish to share that you know your toddler will eat.  Battle hanger early on!
  3. It’s okay to RSVP “no” to some holiday events when your family is running on empty.  Better yet, use a calendar to keep track of all your upcoming events so you can choose which days will be a PJ day instead of running back and forth to the North Pole.
  4. Give small, immediate rewards (such as stickers, smelly chapstick, a favorite cup, a special storytime, extra cuddles) for your child’s good behavior.  Stay on top of the praise instead of being stuck under the tantrum.
  5. It’s easy to go overboard with gift buying.  Follow this simple wish list to keep it short, and meaningful.

…..Something they want.
…..Something they need.
…..Something to wear.
…..Something to read.

And lastly, if you like to give around holiday season, get the whole family involved.  Ask everyone to pick a favorite charity or way to spread Christmas cheer.  Let it be part of their wish list.


Now, go play!

Go Big or Go Outside

Toddler wake up on the wrong side of the bed?
Tired of listening to yourself sing “Wheels on the Bus”?
Day got you dragging?
Feel like there’s a million hours left before bedtime?

Think big.  Gross Motor Skills are a great way to use up time and energy, while activating the brain!


Kick it, kick it real good.


Crawling on clouds.


Ball o’ fun.  Because who’s using it for exercise anyway.


Forget the rake.


And on that note, when all else fails, get outside.  Fresh air is great to rejuvenate yourself and your babe.  Take a break from chores, screens, and whatever else is weighing you down and take in the sun.


Now, go play!

Put a bow on it.

Here it is!  Your guide to holiday shopping for the little ones in your life.  These are Play to Grow’s fave items for gift giving.

Tips for toy giving:

  1. Buy something that does not take batteries.  The parents will thank you.  And so will the child’s brain.
  2. Look for something that can grow with the child, that they can use throughout their childhood.
  3. Stay away from gender stereotypes!  Boys can play house and girls can drive toy cars around.

All of the gifts are linked to buy them but PLEASE visit an actual store!  Although the holiday crowds can be crazy at time, remember it’s important to interact with people on a daily basis! Brick and mortars for the win!

Disclaimer: Play to Grow does not receive any monetary reward for this post or any of the links you click on.  They are truly just great products!  Wouldn’t that be nice though? (So, hey! Any retailers reading this, hit us up!)

shopping (1)

Latch puzzle


Toy house


Shopping Cart


Tea set


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Sit and Stuff Bean Bag


And more books


Step Stool


Pop up Tent

shopping (2)

Shape Sorter



For more ideas on gift giving, check out this past post.

Looking for ways to keep it all together despite ribbons and bows, click here.


Now, go shopping.
Then, go play!


Are you ready?

And all things holidays…buying gifts, mailing cards, potluck planning, turkey prepping, waiting in lines, waiting in return lines, not to mention the every day duties of laundry, cooking, carpools, sports, play dates, time out…TIME OUT.  Before all of that goes down, let’s just take a deep breath.  DO IT.  TAKE A DEEP BREATH.  DID YOU DO IT?

Now, this post is all for you.  Forget your to do list, forget what to make for dinner, forget if your kid is going to eat it, just be still.  Be here.


Now, take a minute to think about what you need.  What do you really need.

Is it your body?  Is your mind racing? Are you on an emotional roller coaster?  Choose from one of the activities below or see more ideas here.



Wine does the trick too.


Now, go relax.