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!

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!

Sign it to me, baby!

Children are constantly absorbing language.  That’s why when your child does begin to talk, the words will come out like the flood gates are opening.  A trickle at first, then full blown word flood. Children hear anywhere from 13-45 MILLION words in the first four years, depending on how much parents talk and read to them.   So as the saying goes, the more you read, the more you know.  

However, before the word vomit, it can be hard to understand your child’s wants and needs.  And it can be frustrating for your child.  It’s not a temper tantrum or a meltdown.  It’s a roadblock in communication.  Instead of getting equally frustrated, try to figure out what your child needs or let him know that you understand his frustration.

How can I help my child communicate?  Simply by exposing him to those 45 million words.  Talk, sing, narrate your day, read, read, and read.  And one more thing – use sign language.  Think about it.  When you hear the chicken dance, does your body automatically turn you into a wing flapping chicken.  When you’re at a noisy restaurant do you pretend sign your name to signal to the server you would like your check?  And when baby wants to be picked up does she raise her arms to you?  All of these are uses of body language, gestures, and sign language!

WHY BABY SIGN LANGUAGE WORKS

  1. Signing builds on your baby’s natural abilities.

ALL babies gesture. As your baby gains more control over his arms and begins interacting with you more, he will start to clap, wave & point.  Exposing your baby to sign language provides a tool that builds beautifully on his existing natural abilities.

  1. Signing highlights key words for your baby.

Your baby is exposed to hundreds of words each day and her amazing brain is busy trying to differentiate all of these sounds AND figure out what they mean. Adding signs to what you are saying highlights key vocabulary AND gives your baby a visual clue to what the word means as many ASL signs look like the word they represent.

3. Signing engages more areas of the brain
Exposing your baby to both auditory language (speech) and visual language (signing) you stimulate multiple areas of your baby’s brain, building more neural connections and ultimately improving intelligence.

The Bump has a great article of 25 signs for baby.  These are signs that you and your baby most likely use on a daily basis and can help identify baby’s wants and needs before she can use words.  Start using one or two on a daily basis and your baby will pick up on the words and hand sign that goes with it.  If every day you sign “potty” when you are changing her diaper, soon she will be able to tell you she needs her diaper changed or eventually, **exciting!**,  when she has to use the potty!  If every day you sign milk when you are getting ready to feed your baby, she will understand that not only does a bottle or breast mean food, but that she can convey to you that she is hungry instead of crying.

When using sign language, not only should you sign to your baby, but at times, make her hand do the same.  This will help create muscle memory and strengthen the bond between the word and the action.

Now,

go
Go
play
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!

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!

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!