Your turn!

Rainy day?  Cold day?  Sick day?  In need of a quiet day activity?  Break out the board games.  Board games teach turn taking, patience, following directions, and more depending on the game.

As parents running a household we are constantly running around to work, school, daycare, sports, grocery shopping and home only to run around the house doing laundry, doing dishes, giving baths, picking up toys, making dinner, drinking coffee and deciding which items spark joy.  Take time to stop what you are doing and play.  Playing with your child creates and strengthens your relationship.  Through eye contact, conversations, simple touches and the attention you are providing, your child will feel loved and respected and will reciprocate those feelings to others.  Board games are a great way to establish one on one time.

In addition, board games strengthen your child’s social skills such as turn taking, sharing, and patience as well as cognitive skills including memory, vocabulary, and problem solving with these SIMPLE games: Elefun, Go Fishing, Hot Potato, Don’t Break the Ice, Hungry Hippos, Walk Like a Chicken

Shark Attack, Pop the Pig, any other Jack in the Box style game are great for turn taking.  The waiting time is short, and the pay off is big!  Practice colors and counting too!

Remember, it’s okay to bend the rules.  Pick one skill to work on and let the others fly, such as, work on waiting for your turn by sitting on your hands or squeezing hands together, then the adult does the counting or point to where the game piece needs to move to.

And as a Play to Grow motto reminder, LET THE CHILDREN PLAY!  While it can be frustrating to play the game exactly how the rules state, if your child just wants to play with the game pieces or sort pretend money, let them.  They may not be ready for the game yet, or just not today.  If you force them to sit and roll the dice and count spaces and leave their game piece on the blue spot, they are not going to be happy, neither of you will have fun and boards will get flipped and you’ll be the sore loser.

Now, go play!


Get me outta here!

cab·in fe·ver
  1. irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

We know the feeling.  We’ve all experienced it.  Whether it’s because you are snowed in, rained in, frozen in, stomach bugged in, humidity-ed in, no car-ed in, whatever the reason you are stuck inside with tiny humans it can get tense, reaaallllll quick.  Get through the day with these easy, minimal prep activities.

Cotton Ball Snow Angels


-Cotton balls or craft puffs for “rainbow snow” (no cotton balls? no problem! Crumple up scrap paper, tissue paper, toilet paper, whatever you’ve got!)
-floor space

Have your child lay on his back and count to 3.  Dump the cotton balls all over him and let him make snow angels.  Have him collect the “snow” and put it back in the bin/bowl/bag to do it again.

Extending the activity:
-Sing a winter song
-Count the snowballs
-Let them roll around in the “snow”, throw it in the air themselves, have a snowball fight


Play Doh Invitation to Play


Note: your child’s snowman will NOT look like this.

-play doh of any color
-snowman making materials: sticks, stones, buttons, baby socks for hat, googly eyes, baby carrots, anything you can find in your junk drawer or craft box
-glitter if you’re brave.

Place all items in small containers or bowls so your child can see all there is to offer (this is perfect).  He may decide to only use one item or just the play doh.  Practice rolling the play doh into balls.  Stacking the balls.   Push the balls down to make a melting snowman.


Snowball Soup

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-Actual snow if it’s available, otherwise bring back those cotton balls/paper snowballs, or crack some ice cube trays
-2 pots or large bowls
-spoons, cups, small bowls
-large towel

Spread the towel out and have a snowball picnic.   Allow your child to scoop and pour from one bowl to the other.   If snow is in short supply, fill a bowl with an inch or two of water (it will go a long way!) and a handful of ice cubes.  Your little will LOVE scooping the ice from the water.  Make a coffee, sit back and scroll through the gram.


Freeze Dance
-music or favorite songs
-floor space
-blue suede shoes

As simple as it sounds, this will surely get some energy out.  Practice directional words like “stop/go” or “fast/slow”  Hint: dance with your child, you both need it.


How else do you get through a looonnng day?  Leave a comment below!

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

2 preschool teachers and a speech therapist walk into a bar..and all they talk about is their students and clients, and what toys they love to teach with.

Wondering what to get the little ones on your list?  Check out Play to Grow’s favorite toys of the season.  Some are classics, other new.  Most of the toys on this list will grow with the child.  Share with your family and friends!

With the help of Michele Steriti, preschool special needs teacher, and Jackie Elinski, speech therapist, Play to Grow has compiled a list of favorite toys for you holiday shopping guide!  Enjoy!

Michele Steriti says her favorite toys are those that provide open ended entertainment, those that can be used in more than one way.  “I love a toy that a baby can grow into”, Jackie Elinski. And always, as a Play to Grow motto, “Follow their lead” works easily with these toys.  Let children play how they want to play.  Now, go shopping, and go play!


Spring Cleaning


What you need:

  • Any or all of the following: large bowl or container Sponges, scrub brushes, wash cloths, towels, more towels, water, soap.
  • Any or all of the following: trucks, plastic animals, baby dolls, etc.

Spread out a towel or get outside with the sun.  Let your little one “clean” her toys.  You can assist by labeling body parts, truck parts, movements, and more.  Practice language skills, fine motor, compassion, and build relationships with toys and each other!


Now, go play!

Who’s turn is it anyway?


Tell that to a Mom with a napping baby and a hot cup of coffee.

From birth we begin talking to babies, and when they start responding we start cheering.  “Where’s Mommy?  Head up! Get the toy! Yay!  Good job!”  It may seem minuscule but your little one is following directions.  The first step towards sharing.  As she becomes more independent, 10-12 months, she will begin putting toys in buckets, opening books, picking up her cup, and more, all the while looking to you for praise.  At this age, she is proud of her accomplishments and looks to you for praise.  Congratulate her, make a big deal, throw a party.  The more you praise these skills, the more her self esteem grows and yearns to be more independent.  (Proud Praise – Remember this when you see her taking turns and sharing!)

Turn Taking – Here is a skill you can actively create and practice.  All you need is a ball.  Rolling a ball back and forth creates a pattern that babies and toddlers can recognize.  Back and forth, my turn, your turn.  If he needs assistance sit him in between your legs and roll the ball to a friend.  At first, take a few turns back and forth helping your child push the ball.  Before long he will get the hang of it, I have the ball, now you have the ball, now I get the ball back, I get it now!  When playing with other toys and friends, use phrases that will remind your child of this game.  “It’s Bobby’s turn with the car now, when he is done with it, he will give you a turn.” “When you are done, let Sarah have a turn.”  And don’t forget about Proud Praise!  “Great job sharing!  Look how happy Sarah is that you gave her a turn!”
Positive feedback creates repetitive positive behavior.
Now, go play!

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.