Happy Hauntless Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Here are a few fun activities to get you through this spoOoOOooOoky week!

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Feed the Ghost! Cut a ghost out of poster or foam board.  Break out a large sauce pan, mix up some pretend food and feed that ghost!  Use alphabet magnets to practice letters with your toddler!  Practice imaginary play, language, and turn taking.

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Haunted Tent: Drape black sheer fabric, orange string lights, and throw in some flash lights for a not so haunted house.  This will encourage gross motor skills, independence, and spark sensory receptors.

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Invitation to Play: While your little one is napping, set out a spread of play dough and left over Halloween decor.  Your little one will practice fine motor skills and choice making while his imagination flourishes.

Put your dancin’ shoes on for this one:

Lastly, don’t forget to check out our past post when preparing your child for Halloween Festivities!

Now, go play!

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Move Your Body

Who wouldn’t like a morning massage to wake up your muscles?  How about a nighttime rub down to settle stress and set a calming tone for sleep?  From babies to adults, we can all use this addition to our daily schedule.

Each morning, help baby to wake up muscles, alert their senses, and recognize body parts each morning.  Provide small repetitive squeezes up and down their arms and legs, wiggle toes and fingers.  Sing a little tune naming body parts as you do.  Before bedtime, repeat squeezes with a calmer, slower pace to set the tone for sleep.

Toddlers can give squeeze their own bodies or participate in a short series of yoga poses.  Good Morning Yoga and Good Night Yoga are great books with simple poses for children.

Similarly, when singing songs throughout the day that contain hand/body movements such as “Wheels on the Bus” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider” don’t simply put on a show for your baby.  If he is too young to complete the movements himself, move his hands with yours.  Using “hand over hand”, he will begin to learn the movements not just from watching, but from feeling his muscles move in the repetitive motions.

Now, go play!

 

 

It’s getting hot out there…

When mother’s sun’s rays are so powerful for days upon days, it can feel like a blizzard.  Snowed in, or sunned in, with babies and toddlers is the quintessential Reality Survival TV Show.  So plan your allies ahead and you won’t be left for the hyenas.

Homemade instruments with rubber bands and a meatloaf pan.  Break out the wooden spoons and pots to keep a beat.

Paint+Ziplock Bag+Packaging tape=Mess free finger painting.  Tape the bag to a wall for those learning to stand, to the high chair tray while you make dinner, or to the floor for tummy time.

Don’t be afraid of a little water.  Lay down towels or a tablecloth.  Have your little one help clean up.

Paint with water – dip a paint brush in water and paint on construction paper.  The water temporarily shows up on the paper.

Ice cubes – with or without food dye are fun, slippery entertainment.

Make it rain!  Poke holes in the bottom of a plastic cup, pour an inch of water in a tin pan.  Scoop and drip.

For more beat the heat activities.

Now, go play!

Day by day and Room by room

How many rooms are in your house?  How many has your newborn seen? Most likely the living room, the kitchen, and a bedroom.  Branch out!  And put all of the rooms in your house to use!

Kitchen:
Sights, Sounds, Feels – blenders, mixers, timers, cold refridgerator, scented candles            (you don’t have to light them!), mixing spoons (jingle jangle!)
Baking Sheets and Muffin Pans – water play and magnetic letters
Silverware Sorting
Containers, containers, containers
Food! – messy play or tasting, that’s what baths are for!

Bathroom:
Bath – water play, finger paints, edible paints,
Lotion
Brushes – hairbrush, comb, loofa, sponge, lightly rub on hands and feet, legs and arms      for a tickl-y sensory experience

Bedrooms:
Blanket Burritos! Wrap/swaddle baby up in a blanket, rock back and forth singing                   “Row Row Your Boat,
Gently down the stream,
If you see the alligator, don’t forget to scream!”
On the last line, unwrap baby for a tickle attack
Blanket Peekaboo – cover baby face and slowly pull off to say Peek a Boo, or cover                   your face and let baby pull off of you
Lotion massages
Books
Baby/stuffed animal make believe

Living/Family Room:
Pictures – babies love to look at pictures, let them look at picture frames, photo                    albums, books and even magazines.  Tape pictures on a wall for baby to look at during      tummy time

No matter the age, allow baby to explore her environment.  Cabinet locks and gates are great for keeping baby safe but not for containment!  If there isn’t anything dangerous in a cabinet, there’s no need to put a lock on it!  Let baby explore the Tupperware, pots and pans, and pantry.  As baby starts crawling, different surfaces will help develop coordination and fine motor, rugs to hardwood or a step down into a sunken living room.

That being said, just a friendly reminder to never leave baby alone, even for a few minutes.  Be sure furniture, televisions, and large pieces of decor are secured to the wall or out of baby’s reach.  Even the shaking of a coffee table leg can vibrate a lamp off the edge.

Now, go play!

Art for the Ages

You talked, we listened!  Here are some easy art activities to do with the wee ones.  They also carry over to simple art activities for toddlers.  Remember, just because they are capable of more, doesn’t mean its going to be any easier for you.  Keep all of your activities simple, no matter the age, and everyone will be a lot happier.  Try a project with 18 steps where it has to dry and then you peel it off and then add glue to the corner aaaaaannnnddd the two year old is eating a googly eye.  Simplify with these easy activities:

 

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  1. Ball Painting: Get the smock out.  Roll a ball through paint.
  2. Shake Paint: Place paper in any container/box with a lid.  Add a few drops of paint, any small objects (marbles, golf balls etc).  Put the lid on and shake it up!
  3. Paper and Plastic: Similar to above, squeeze a few drops of paint on a piece of paper.  Carefully place paper in a large ziplock bag.  Seal and seal again with packaging tape.  If you are afraid of baby biting plastic, double bag.  Tape to the floor for tummy time, to the wall for those learning to pull themselves up.
  4. Sensory Bags:  Fill a ziplock bag with oil (baby, veggie, canola, etc) and a few drops of food coloring.  Double bag and seal with packaging tape.  Let baby squeeze and poke away.
  5. Mess Free Baby Bubble Wrap: Drops of paint on paper.  Tape bubble wrap over top.  Again, place on the floor for tummy timers, on the wall for walkers.

 

These too!
Picasso: Place a few drops of paint on a canvas.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Let baby create a masterpiece for the museum.

Car paint:  Cars or plastic animals, let baby drive cars through paint blobs on  black paper.

Animals in mud:  Sprinkle hot chocolate powder on paper.  Spritz with water to make a paste.  Use plastic animals to “get dirty”!

Edible Fingerpaint:
yogurt
cocoa powder + water
strawberry preserves
squashed blueberries
pureed baby food ( orange- carrots, green-peas, etc)

Have the wipes ready, and have fun!

Now, go play!

Move it!

Music and movement go hand in hand with child development.  This Valentine’s Day, sing a song to your sweetheart and dance a little dance.

Lullabies – Singing a song to your sleepy newborn helps to develop a positive bond that soothes and comforts.  As this song becomes familiar it can come in handy when your child is upset or scared.

Finger plays – Songs that incorporate simple words and repetition support language development.  Wheels on the bus, Old McDonald, 5 Little Monkeys, all provide opportunities for children to anticipate or choose what comes next.  When singing these songs, pause at the end of the verse to allow your child to finish the rhyme.
“Old McDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-………..o!
“And on that farm he had a……..”
“The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the…….”
When your child responds by vocalizing, whether clearly stating “Cow!” or just “Ga”, take it!  Accept any attempt at communication to instill confidence in your child.

Movement Songs – Let’s dance!  Fast or slow, your child can follow directions to get their bodies moving and practice body awareness.  Songs can provide directions or simply spark freestyle based on the genre and style such as Latin, Bluegrass, Classical, or New-Age.
Try incorporating these into your daily morning routine to wake up the body:
“Head, shoulders, knees, and toes”
“Row, row, row, your boat”
“Cha Cha Slide”
“Hokey Pokey”

Now, get up, get moving, and go play!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love and Crafts

The key to arts and crafts?

SIMPLE. SIMPLE. SIMPLE.

The easier the craft the more fun it will be for your child AND you.  Think of an easy project, then find a way to make it easier.  And now, make it even easier.

How?  Plan activities that have few steps.  You can even set up the activity before beginning.  Break it down into steps so you know exactly what you are doing next.  Of course, have clean up materials handy and a space to place items to dry if necessary.

Here are three activities to try this week.

SHAKE UP HEARTS

  1. Cut a heart out of art paper, place in container with paint and mixers -heart candies, marbles, bells, dried pasta or beans.
  2. SHAKE IT!
  3. Let love dry 🙂

 

HEART STAMPS
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Squeeze a toilet paper roll to form a heart and place tape around to hold the shape.  Stamp in paint then on paper.

***With all of these, projects, don’t ever let the stock photo fool you.  With a babe under 2, you will be doing most of the work.  Try the “hand over hand” method.  Here, place your hand over you child’s hand on the cardboard tube.  This way, you are completing the motion, but your child is a part of the fun.

“Stamp the heart, thump, thump, thump.”
“Dip and stamp, stamp, stamp.”

 

VALENTINES FOR THE BIRDS

Spread a thin layer of peanut butter (or soy butter, or sunflower butter, or almond butter) on a piece of bread.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out a shape.  Dip into a shallow dish filled with bird seed.  Thread with a string and hang outside the window.
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Stay tuned for monthly crafty ideas to do with your babes.  Touching on creativity is important on so many levels.  Creating helps children develop knowledge of objects such as crayons and paint, while experiencing sensory materials while getting messy or squeezing play doh.  As children grow, they begin to express themselves through art.  They can also begin to communicate through art where their words have yet to develop.  Children should be creating every day.  This doesn’t mean you have to plan an elaborate project every day.  Provide children with different materials.  Crayons and paper one day, chalk and chalkboard the next, or a white board and dry erase markers.

Now, go play!