Friday, February 28, 2014

Toddler Activities

I'm constantly googling ideas for this child of mine, for her development and fun activities to do at home on a tight budget. Here's what I've put together so far. This is for her current 18month old style (the previous acitivities for X month old have been retired as she's outgrown some).

I've put these into 3 groups: Play time, Music time and Craft time. Why have I done this? Kids need routine, they learn through repetition, they are busy and need wholesome things to keep them busy well, aids their sensory development and we know the benefits of music.

Disclaimer: I'm not a perfect mom, much to learn. I'm just doing the best with the info I get and the tools I have at my finger tips.

1. Sensory Bins and Bottles

So your imagination is what will limit you here. If there's a tangible object, you can turn it into a sensory box. I've made up 5, not because my imagination is limited but because I have 5 empty bins/boxes to use.

A. Bean Sorter
On the right. I've put black eyed peas, split peas and popcorn kernels along with a 3 section egg tray for the legumes to be sorted in. Plus I've added a scoop. She loves this. Great for fine motor development. I've taught her to be a clean kid too cuz if she drops 1 split pea on the ground, she picks it up and puts it back in the bin straight away! Love it!

B. Pasta Plus
On the left. I've put in macaroni, cotton and shredded paper along with a container to keep these items separated. Plus I've added a spoon for stirring. She likes to take the cotton and rub it gently on her cheek and she loves the sound the macaroni makes when she stirs it up.

C. Dancing Color Experiments
In the middle. There are also some craft items squeezed in there (I need another bin for grocery shop will have to get ice cream...dang, hey!). So for the colors I have a small bottle of vinegar, baggie of baking soda, food color, plastic syringe to squeeze vinegar on to colored baking soda and 3 little dishes. As she is young, I do 2 primary colors. Once the dancing stops, I add water. Then I ask, what happens if we mix the blue with the red water? It turns purple! She says OoooOoOOOoooOoo through the whole process. Then puts her hand in each dishy of water. Then she stacks the 3 dishes up when she's had enough.

D. Beach Experience
This is not in the photo. It is powder sand, shells and stones all from the beach. She loves to dig in the sand. And of course the feel of powder white sand is quite luxurious.

As she gets older, I'll have a packet of plastic animals she can play with in the bins and I'll probably go with more themes like the beach theme rather than just pasta/cotton/paper. Ever changing!

E. Sensory Bottles

There's only 3 but there are more coming as I get the empty bottles. The one on the left has shampoo and washers. This illustrates how objects move slower in thicker liquids. The middle is rainbow rice that I dyed last night and treasure trinkets buried inside. I tried to shake it to show a trinket but the rice kept burying it when I placed it upright. The one on the right has water, blue dye, sparkles and a couple small crab shells. Sometimes I wonder who enjoys these bottles more, me or her?? More to come (again imagination is what will limit).

2. Blocks and Stackers
I have wooden blocks, a couple big soft blocks, measuring cups and recently was given stacking cups. She's up to building a 7 block tower but gets really mad if the 8th block knocks it over. She has my temperment.

3. Books
I started reading to her, well... when she was in the womb, but in real life when she was 1 month old. Her first book was about 4 fabric pages with crinkly paper inside and a mirror on the back. She laughed at the stuff on the green page and to this day is quite drawn to green (I think it's her fav color). She LOVES books! It's one of the few playtime activities that will keep her occupied for more than 5 minutes. She is gentle with books too. Never tears the pages. We go grab the max 7 from the library every couple weeks and I have a few in her collection. They range from board books, learning books (1sts), fun short stories and a couple Hungarian books.

4. Puzzles
I know puzzles say not for children under 3 but I'm not a conventional rule follower all the time. She has the foamy letter/number puzzles, wooden puzzle and recent addition of the piece puzzles. Her main objective is to take the puzzle apart. She can put the wooden numbers into their slots on the puzzle with my help. And today, I got her a 24 piece. She even grabbed 2 pieces that fit together twice but mainly enjoyed taking it apart and putting it into a pile here and then over there. Whatever dude, gets her exposed and soon she'll be an efficienado. Tomorrow I'm going to make her some 2 piece puzzles out of the animal pictures on cardboard.

5. Balls in Bucket
This is probably her fav thing. She has been a big fan of balls since 4 months old and is a very efficient thrower now. I have 3 colorful plastic balls, a small bouncy globe ball, tennis ball, soft plush ball, bigger bouncy textured ball and from time to time she starts rolling my big yoga ball around the house. Any time we pass a bin of balls in a store she points, jabbers and gets excited. She's working on kicking now. I want to sign her up for soccer (there is a club 18months-3) but it's in the southern suburbs which is a bit far at this point. Maybe next season.

6. Bubbles
She loves bubbles. She loves to chase after them and if they land intact on the floor, she loves to step on them (in a most delicate manner I might add). Easy recipe 1 cup water, 4 tablespoons dish soap, 2 tablespoons glycerin.

7. Freeplay
This develops her independence (which is quite developed already) and imagination. Here is where she can enjoy her toy toys like her mickey mouse car, musical caterpillar, stuffed animals, etc.

8. Outside Time
This takes up the bulk of her awake time. We go outside 2-3 times a day for almost an hour each time. She gets quite upset when we come inside. She loves to walk around the complex. She has a route (creature of habit). First stop is the pool area. She likes to do a lap around the pool. Then we do her preferred route around the flats and grassy area. When the other kids are home from school, she dumps the route in favor of play with the children. She also has 3 specific plants she likes to gather from-lavendar bush, cool textured succulent plant and the pink/yellow flower bush by our front door. She'll walk the whole time with one of those plants clutched in her hand. We also like to paint with nature. We take leaves and the make a pretty green streak on the brick. There are these black berry things and these red berry like things that also leave pretty colors on the brick. Sometimes we even make an impromptu nature sensory bucket with a collected variety of leaves and flowers in a plastic bowl. She loves nature like me.

So that's our play time. We obviously don't do all 8 things everyday. The only daily occurence is books, balls, outside and I try really hard to get a sensory activity in each day. But some days, life happens and we have to go grocery shopping or fun happens and we head into town to the big awesome park (that takes the whole morning pre nap time) and of course there's Sundays with church and now nursery. She was so good on her first day at nursery last week. Awwwwwwwwww. She folded her arms and listened to the lesson and daintally ate her snack and politely played with the toys. I almost cried 3 times just watching how adorable and wonderful she is. Love her!!!!

Music time
We've been exposing her to music since before birth. When she was new, papa was always singing a Burundian lullaby to her. So precious. I was always singing hymns to her. Now, I've made a singing time box.

I just started it this week so it's quite minimal but honestly enough for her attention span. I have my song list divided into action songs and prop songs. I made some music shakers out of old vitamin bottles, lentils and nature scene magazine paper. Her fav song is Itsy Bitsy Spider. She's always putting her fingers together like the spider climbing up the spout to request me to sing it. After every song I sing, she claps and says Yay! My number 1 fan folks. We bought her a tamborine today and she has a pretty awesome keyboard complete with beat option keys that she got for her first bday. She loves the beats and dances to them. From time to time we "drum" with containers and sticks. I also have some kiddy CDs to play while we do other things like craft time. Which leads me to...

Craft time
Well, as you may have guessed it, babes arent crafty experts. However, this activity still develops skills so we go forth anyhow. Collages are good to give baba gluing and pasting skill development. She prefers to put the lid on and off the glue stick but will run a streak of glue on the paper every once in awhile. Finger painting is probably best bet for this age. I've made them from cornstarch, color and water; flour, color and water; equal parts flour, salt, water plus color in a squeezy bottle. This one dries puffy and sparkly from the salt. And next will do the jello one where you add just enough hot water to get the consistency of paint. I've also made a couple home made playdoughs plus I have some store bought ever lasting playdough and cutters. She loves playdough. This play will last a while for her. My next project with her will include making a candy house or icing cookies or something confectionary like.

And there you have it. My 3 groups of activities to keep this woman busy, entertained, learning and growing. I love being a SAHM. Sometimes, I have more fun doing these activities than she does. Sometimes this woman does a better job of entertaining me than I her. She's quite a comedian! Her new schtick now is closing her eyes and walking then laughing about it. One time, however, she walked into the chair...she didnt laugh but I did. She's really good at clowning around. And she is really clever. She understands everything I say. If I say, go get your shoes, she goes and gets her shoes and brings them to the chair where I put them on her and she gets really excited cuz she knows it's outside time. I hope this boy in my belly is going to be fun, smart and cute like her. Will find out in a few weeks.