Bubbles!

Bubbles are a baby staple. Every baby, child, and adult enjoys good bubbles. Think about it, isn’t it satisfying to blow through a bubble wand? And isn’t it disappointing when they’re just not good bubbles?

Bubbles are an inexpensive toy that can provide endless activities. Here are ways to use bubbles and activate each area of development.

Cognitive: Babies are in awe of bubbles. “What are these shimmering balls floating above my head?” Blow bubbles to extend tummy time and encourage those eco muscles to look ALL around. For toddlers, they are using problem solving skills as they learn how to shape their mouth and how hard to blow, trial and error at its finest!

Language: “Where should we blow the bubbles? On your head or toes?” “Look! The bubbles are going up, up, up!” Bubbles make room for lots of language. Babies will communicate with you through smiles and reaching while toddlers use their words or hand gestures for “more”.

Social and Emotional: Who wants a turn? Everyone. Always. Practice turn taking with your toddler every time the wand needs reapplication. For babies, they are expressing their feelings of joy when the bubbles pop on their nose (or dislike) and it’s your job to respect their emotions. “It looks like you don’t like when the bubbles pop on you, I’ll blow them farther away,”

Motor Skills: Pointing, teaching, clapping, stomping, running, how many ways can you think to pop a bubble? Get moving!

The best part is bubbles are inexpensive, available almost anywhere including the dollar store, and last forever!

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Hop to it!

Peter Cottontail is on his way and is bringing goodies!  Fill your child’s basket with more than just jelly beans and chocolate eggs!  Below are Play to Grow’s top 10 must haves for your little bunny that still fit in their basket (This isn’t Christmas! We see you IG one uppers.).

  1. Bubbles
  2. Books
  3. Shaker eggs ( DIY version= here and here)
  4. Bath paint
  5. Window Clings
  6. Stickers
  7. Play Doh
  8. Chapstick
  9. Flashlight
  10. Chalk

 

Hoppy Shopping!!!

 

Now, go play!

Dollar Store Haul

Wander the aisles of your local dollar store and fill up on goodies that are sure to entertain your kiddos.  Below are a few activities you can throw together with simple materials available from the dollar store, although you may already have most of them at home.  Keep them in a bin and store away when not in use.  Pull out in times of need, ie: prepping dinner, making doctor appointments, checking email, writing a blog post, etc.

Animal Bath: Fill a bin with an inch or two of water, add some plastic animals and a sponge.  Use a plastic table cloth as a catch-all and for easy clean up.  Let your little ones give their animals a “bath”.  Add some dish soap for some bubbles, or not if you have someone who eats everything.

Push and Pull Garden: Poke artificial flowers through a colander, let your little one “pick” flowers for you!  For a toddler, show them how to weave pipe cleaners in and out of the holes then let them work it themselves.

Stainless Steel Fridge Fix: Baking Sheets double as a magnetic refrigerator.   Add magnetic letters for spelling fun.

Tummy Time: mirrors, paper cups, bubbles, masking tape sticky balls, balloons, and items of various textures (cleaning cloths, hairbrush, gift bows, measuring cups, flashlights, practically anything.

Dollar Store Shopping List (all materials noted above plus some extra)
Bins/Containers
Plastic Animals
Sponges
Dish Soap
Colander
Artificial Flowers
Pipe Cleaners
Baking Sheet
Magnetic Letters
Mirror
Paper Cups
Bubbles
Masking Tape
Balloons
Flashlights
Velcro Hair Rollers
Toy Cars
Baby Doll
Kitchen Utensils (spoon, spatula, tongs)
Gift Bows
Tissue Paper
Streamers
Paper Plates
Coffee Filters
Spray Bottle

Want more?  Drop a comment with a random dollar store item and we will make an activity out of it!

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.

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!)

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Latch puzzle

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Toy house

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Shopping Cart

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Tea set

 

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Kitchen

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Legos

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Sit and Stuff Bean Bag

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Books
And more books

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Step Stool

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Pop up Tent

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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!

 

Inspectors

Have you ever watched your child observe a school bus drive by?  Have you seen your child try to put legos together or stack blocks only to have them fall down?  This is your child’s brain developing cognitively.  Babies are observers and as they get older they become explores, question askers, and doers.  By providing this experiences for your baby from day one you can help them develop to their fullest potential.

Make the world accessible.
Show your newborn her house, each room, look out the windows, walk the neighborhood, go to the grocery store.  Allow your baby to feel the breeze, lay in the sun, listen to music, touch (gasp) the dirt, the grass, anything that is a part of their world.

Narrate each day.
Label, describe, point, repeat, sing and read.
By talking to you child your are encouraging their language to develop.  If you have never heard a word you don’t know it exists, and if you aren’t taught what it means, you’ll never use it.

Create opportunities.
If you want your child to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, talk, ride a bike, play baseball, make their bed, be kind, help others, and grow, show them how to do it.  All of it.  It’s been said before, you don’t need the most popular toy, a new app, the latest iPhone, your child just needs you.  You are the one they want, who’s attention they crave, so show them how it’s done.   Provide your child with the means to grow with what you have available.  Sit with your 5 month old and help him balance, reach for a toy and place it just within reach during tummy time, encourage sharing by sharing at home, say hello and thank you to the cashier at the grocery store, take her to the park to watch a softball game, have books on the couch, in the bathroom, in the bedroom, and everywhere in between.  Allow your child to observe, try and try again.

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Now, go play!

What is Early Intervention anyway?

Between 0-3 years old, babies’ brains are growing like a wildfire.  Everything is new and exciting.  And they are growing to be able to explore their world by crawling, walking, reaching, grabbing, communicating, and more.  Some babies need a little extra boost to reach milestones, and some are predisposed to ailments both minor and major.  The Early Intervention (EI) System is a service provided by the government under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  If you are worried your child is not advancing as his peers, talk to your pediatrician.  She can point you into the direction of the Early Intervention System in your state.

Now, that being said, not every child develops at the same rate.  And just because your neighbor’s 11 month old is walking, doesn’t mean your 11 month old should be walking.  Instead, focus on what he CAN do, not what he can’t.  When a lacking skill impairs your child’s daily activities, Early Intervention can be resourceful.

Early Intervention is not a bad thing!  Do you take your child on play dates because you want him to socialize?  Do you take your child to the playground so he can be active?  Do you allow and provide and play your child with age appropriate toys?  These are all opportunities an Early Intervention Therapist would take part in.  An EI therapist will show you specific activities you can do to help your child meet those milestones.

Don’t think you don’t have time for EI.  The therapists will work around YOUR schedule.  They will come right to your house or meet with your childcare provider.  Whatever works FOR YOU.  The earlier you begin EI services, the better for your child.

If you think your child needs a little extra help but does not qualify for services you can also seek private therapy.

Email cyoung@weplaytgrow.com for questions or to help get you started in this process.

Now, go play!