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Friday, January 30, 2009

Get Moving Outside!

I am staying in my Dads small town home with my two boys (soon to be 3 boys). We have a little front yard but you are not aloud to leave anything in the front yard so I have to find ways to make it fun to play outside but keep in mind that I have to bring it all back in! So here is one idea: CHALK!! I know, it sounds simple but here is a really fun game to play that gets kids moving and learning:)
This game started out as a way get Caden jumping. I drew circles down the path and then used the blue chalk on it's side to make "water". I got Caden excited by telling him that there were monsters in the water and not to touch it! He was very excited!(If your child would be scared by that then think of something nicer like "Don't step on the fish" or something) I started by demonstrating how to jump from circle to circle adding drama by "stumbling" into the "water" and getting out really fast! When it was his turn he did it about 10 times back and forth and then lost interest. Drake didn't understand the game but he gave it a couple of runs anyway just to join in:) And, yes, he's not wearing any pants! He wouldn't let me put them on him so... He's such a cutie!
While Caden started playing something else I wrote the first 6 letters of the alphabet in each of the circles and showed it to Caden. He loved jumping in the circles and shouting the letters as he jumped! If I wasn't 31 weeks pregnant I would have drawn the whole alphabet around the sidewalk. Maybe another time:)

A variation of this game is using shapes drawn in different colors. Draw 5 or six shapes in the same pattern as the circles above. Then say things like "Run to the red square!" "Jump on the Yellow Triangle" "Sit on the Blue circle". It's a great way to practice shapes, colors, following directions, and coordination!
Another variation for a younger child who can't jump well yet could be drawing a winding path and have them try to walk the path without falling into the "water".
More outdoor activities for Moms with small spaces coming soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Make Your Own Balance Beam!

I made this balance beam for Caden when he was about 15 months old. I wanted it to be a little off the ground to challenge him later on. I love this because standing straight up it takes up hardly any room at all in the closet! This is great for older kids too! You can add it to an obstacle coarse or play "across the bridge"(another post) games.

So here's how I made mine:

I went to home Depot and bought a board. I had them cut one 5 foot piece and two 9 inch pieces.

Then I bought four of these things? I don't know what they are called but they are with the roofing stuff:) I screwed the two nine inch piece to either end using the "thingies" and I was done! The whole thing cost me like five bucks!

This is Caden the first day I made it. Daddy had to help but now he walks it like a pro! He also drives his cars on it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Don't Throw It Out!

I have a tub that I keep pretend "Grown up" things in! The boys love it and it makes me feel better about the expensive things we've broken:( Yes, that is and Ipod!!! Tear! I have phones, game controllers, sunglasses, old gift cards and credit cards. Other things I have had in the past are: a disposable camera, click pens with no ink, wallet, purses, and keys. Anything your child can use to be more like you is a great thing to add to the box. Every once and a while I get out a couple of them and add them to their pretend area. Be sure to make things safe!!! Take out all batteries and super glue the backs shut!

Fruit Salad, Yummm!

This is a simple idea really! Everyone knows how to make a fruit salad but Caden thought that it was great fun to use the tongs to pick each of the fruits by himself and transfer them to his own bowl! Drake thought it was tasty but I just made his for him:)

It's a great fine motor activity for Caden to use the tongs and it's a great opportunity to practice that independence he craves so badly!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Weather Wheel!

I've been talking to the boys about weather in the simplest way lately. I've just been pointing out clouds, the sun, wind, that it's hot or cold and Caden has really taken to it. I decided I needed some kind of weather chart for him so that he could see how the weather changes. I loved this idea from Let's Explore and I wanted to make one that was long lasting so that Caden and Drake could report on the weather everyday!I cut out a circle and divided it into 6 even parts. On one side is the temperature and the other side is the weather conditions. We live in Arizona so I picked the three most likely weather conditions. I glued the circle to an extra piece of construction paper and then laminated it. I also laminated two little arrows and hot glued them on to clothes pins. I also hot glued a thick magnet on the back of the wheel so that I could put it on the front door outside. It also makes it stick out some so that Caden will be able to put the cloths pins on without taking down the wheel. Everyday when we go out for outside time we will talk about the weather and adjust the pins accordingly:)

I made it VERY simple for the boys but it could be made with a lot more choices for older children.

For example:
  • On one side put the degrees and then have them read an out door thermometer and record the temperature on the chart

  • On the other side you could add: windy, snowy, hailing, sprinkle, down pour, blizzard...! Or whatever:)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Under construction!

Not the blog but my dads house! We are staying at my dads house while we save money to get our own home and while he is living in California. We have been busy fixing it up and getting ready for baby! Here's a pic and I will be back tomorrow with more little hands fun, promise!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Real Life Helpers!

Toddlers Love to help and Caden is no exception! He jumps at the opportunity to do what ever me or Nate are doing. Sometimes he makes it longer and harder to get the job done but he learns a lot and it makes him feel special and needed. Both very important for building his self esteem up! Below are pictures from his first time "helping" daddy fix the car! There wasn't very much he could do but he did get to hold the drill and work out those finger muscles! Nate showed him a hole he could drill into (there was no bit in the drill).
His first "dirty working hands"
Here is a little list of ideas to involve your child in your chores!

  • Put a basket next to them and hand them one toy at a time so that they can put it in. Sing a cleanup song while you're at it!

  • Helping scoop out the dog food
  • Putting clothes int the washer or to the dryer
    Cleaning up toys
  • Give them a spray bottle of water and a clean sponge and let them give their toys a good scrubbing!
  • Carrying things, when we get home from a big shopping trip at Costco Caden carries all of the wipes, diapers, and pull-ups up the stairs to the closet one pack at a time! He is exhausted by the end of it.
  • "Can you take this to..." the garbage, to daddy, to the closet.
  • "Can you get the..." tissue, diaper, toy for baby brother.
  • Vacuuming up cheerios with the vacuum hose. SUPERVISION!! This is Caden's favorite.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pound It Out 2!

This is the same concept as this post but we used Styrofoam this time. I also used a kids meal Red Robin cup to hold the golf tees. Both the boys love putting the golf tees in the straw hole of the cup. I also use a red robin cup for their crayons. It's a great fine motor activity!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Play-Doh is awesome for some very obvious reasons: strengthens little fingers, encourages creativity, and is just really fun! I've found that it is a great teaching tool as well. Caden and Drake both love this activity so I incorporate what I want them to learn into their play-doh time. Today I got out the letter cookie cutters and together we cut out the letters in the boys names and then arranged them in order. After Caden named all of the letters we smashed it all up and played with the tools. This is great because he gets to see the letters form in the play-doh but also touch them and manipulate them. I've also used shapes, animals, and numbers. Caden learned most of his shapes in one session of play-doh:) If your child is a play-doh eater have a snack before you start and don't give up! Drake is only one and he's figured it out now after the 6th or 7th time:)

I got my cutters at Joann's with a 50 percent off coupon:) Here's a link.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Build a Fort!!! Ever since we built this fort Caden has been wanting to turn everything into a fort! They boys played in this for a hour! No Joke! I put a touch light in there and used a tunnel as the entrance and exit. They took cars and books in and Drake loved the little light! This was another one that I am going to save for a rainy or too hot day :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Boo Boo Fixer!

I love to provide Caden with ways to pretend and lately he has been very interested in bandaids, "are you ok" and, kissing all better. I decided to put together a little first aid station for him to make Mr. Bear all better. This activity was great for teaching life skills, compassion, and pretending.
I started by introducing Caden to Mr. Bear and sadly telling him that Mr. Bear hurt his leg. Here is how the conversation went from there;

C: Oh No!

Me: What should we do?

C: Oh! Kiss better! (kissing Mr. Bears leg)

After he kissed it better I showed him how to "clean" the hurt with the empty squirt bottle and cotton balls. I also showed him how to bandage it up and "take his temperature". My favorite part was how gentle Caden was being with Mr. Bear! He was even stroking his head:) This is an activity that required me to sit with Caden the first time but through out the day he would go back and talk about the bear and what new parts were hurt and then lay him gently on his little bed!! So sweet!

Here's what I used to make this little first aid station:

  • A patient (stuffed toy or baby doll)

  • Cotton balls

  • Fake bandaids, made from strips of fabric

  • Real bandaids, The really cheap kind

  • Fake thermometer made from a popsicle stick

  • A stethoscope that I got from the hospital when Caden was born!

  • Squirt bottle for cleaning

  • Pillow and blanket, I made mine from leftover terry cloth

  • Gauze, cut in to manageable strips
    P.S. The station is actually a tool bench that I use as the pretend table and it changes to lots of things. Every time I change it I will post about the new pretend activity!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Painting Fun!

We got home tonight and Caden kept asking to paint because, I bought something that looked like paint at the store. I didn't want to get all the stuff to paint out because, it was already time for a bath. Solution: I brought the paints to the bath! I mixed Washable paint with baby soap and then gave them brushes in the tub! It was so much fun to watch them paint and create with out having to worry about the mess at all. Adding the baby soap made it safe for both of the boys and it made it even easier to rinse off. When they were done painting we just drained the water then used the shower head to rinse the boys, the paint containers, the wall and the brushes! My youngest, Drake, really enjoyed this. He's never gotten to paint so freely before and I think it was a really good experience for him. This is something I am going to use for the middle of a rainy or hot day for sure!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ears, Chest!

I've got a new song for you, again from the amazing mind of Mrs. Schnupp! It's more of a chant really and it is great for practicing body part names, coordination and following directions.

Ears, Chest, Ears, Chest

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Ears, Chest, Ears, Chest

Turn around and freeze like so!

As you are saying the chant, touch the body parts and at the end turn around and freeze in a position that the child then imitates! If you have more then one child to play you can say their names at the end instead of "so" and then everyone freezes like the person you named!

I've collected a lot of songs over the years:) so you can expect more over the coarse of this blog! I love songs because they are a fun and effective way to get kids moving and learning! They can also be easily adapted to almost any age! I've got some really great one's for babies that I will be posting soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bean Bag Feely Game!

I love making things that are multifunctional and also things that can grow and evolve with the child. My latest sewing project has been these baby bean bags. This activity is great for sensory development, talking about same and different, and large motor skills.
Aren't they cute!!! I wanted to make bean bags that were smaller for little hands and I had tons of little scraps from other projects. I decided to make them in to a texture game as well. Before I I let Caden play with the target board I had him find the Bean bags that were the same and we talked about how each pair felt. Then the real fun started! He started throwing them at the target and even got one in:) My little one Drake loved it even more then Caden. He stood at the little table and just kept on slipping them through the hole. I was sneaking them from behind back into his pile!
For older children: Put half of the bean bags in a cloth bag. Give the child a bean bag and then have them feel inside the bag without looking to see if they can feel for the correct bean bag.

These were so simple but I am going to give the directions on how I made them just in case anyone wants to know:)
1) I selected 6 fabrics that had different textures and cut 4 rectangles measuring 4in by 3in out of each fabric.
2)I put two pieces of fabric together with the textured sides facing in and sewed around the edges, leaving a little opening at the top in which to turn it right side out.
3) Turn it right side out using a chopstick to push out all of the corners.
4)Fill the bag with filling. I used poly-beads. Make sure that you don't over stuff them!
5) Sew the small opening shut and you have an adorable little bean bag!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mmmmm Doughnuts!

Sorry not the real ones:) This is a fun song/game that I learned from my awesome mentor at the preschool, Patty Schnupp. I miss her:( This is a great game to practice colors, counting, writing, taking turns and following directions!

The game requires these 10 colored doughnuts that you can make out of anything. I made these with construction paper and then laminated them but you could use card stock or that craft foam or whatever:) I wrote the names of the colors on mine because in the future I plan to have my kids go write the names of the colors they collected after the game is done.

Here are the song lyrics:

"Down around the corner at the bakery shop,
There were (#) little doughnuts with sugar on top!
Along came (Name) all alone,
And he took the (Color) one home!"

The child you call would then run to pick up that colored doughnut. Caden sometimes isn't sure which color is which so I help him out but he is getting so good that I rarely have to help. This game can be played with 1 to any number of kids. I played it in my church class with 5 year old children and they loved it!
Caden wasn't awake but I needed a video so you could hear the tune, so my wonderful husband Nate stepped in:) Enjoy!

For younger children start with just three colors that they know

For older children try learning the sign language for the colors and then only give them the sign when you sing the color part. This was a big hit at the preschool.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pound It Out!

I gave Caden golf tees and a wooden hammer and let him go to town in this hard patch of dirt in the yard.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Oldie But a Goodie :)

Red Light! Green Light!
I've been tying to think of ways to get Caden running while we have our daily outside time but all of the ways I have thought of involve me running too(ie Tag)! Being that I am 7 months pregnant, my running stints don't last very long:) Enter Red Light Green light! I remember this game as a kid and I was trying to think of how to adapt it so that Caden would understand my directions. He doesn't understand the lights but he does understand "Stop" and "Go". SO I made these paddles.

How to play: Have your child or children stand a good distance away from you. We started with 10 feet and then made it further once he understood the game. Hold up the stop sign first and then switch to the go sign and encourage them to run as fast as they can towards you. Alternate the signs until they reach you (and tackle your legs if they are like my son).

To Make the Signs: I wrote "Stop" on red paper(octagon) and "Go" on green paper(circle) then mounted them on a sheet of black construction paper and laminated them. I then took Popsicle sticks and hot glued them on the the back. If you don't have a laminator you could paint card board.

The best part is that I got to stand still and he got tired!! Whoo-Hoo!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Toddler Science!

I love science! This "experiment" was very simple and very fun! I taped a square in the middle of Caden's table and put several objects in the middle. I didn't need to explain much, Caden started blowing the items with his straw and the cotton ball flew off the table. I said "The cotton ball is so light it blew right off the table." Little Drake was delighted! He scurried off to retrieve the cotton. When Caden was trying to blow the cat and the cookie cutter and they didn't move I said, "They are too heavy to blow off the table." After several minutes of "experimenting" we ended up blowing a little foam 'x' back and forth to each other and both the boys loved it! This was a great way to learn about heavy and light and it worked out those lungs and cheek muscles!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Easy Beading!

Caden really likes an activity that is just hard enough to challenge him but not so hard that it frustrates him. That being said lacing beads can be pretty tricky. I made it easier for him but still challenging by using a pipe cleaner and these beads that are a bit larger (you might recognize them from the big busy book). It doesn't hurt that the beads are in fun shapes and brightly colored. This kept Caden busy for about 20 minutes! I really like to sit with him during these activities but he really seemed to be in the zone so I cleaned house:) I love when he gets really focused on something. It's one of the signs that I've chosen a good activity for him.

More Sorting Fun!

I made this mat for Caden to sort things of different colors. In the first picture he is sorting little cats and dogs. He liked it and had a lot of success but after a little while he just put them all over the mat and then back in his little cup.
We used it again with Caden's cars. I got one of each color and asked Caden to "park" them on the matching color. He loved driving them on to the mat and making screeching sounds when they would stop. I didn't get a picture when we were doing it together but later Caden got it off the table and did it all by himself so I snapped a quick picture!

This mat is so easy to make! I just cut out 6 circles in the rainbow colors and glued them on a sheet of paper then onto construction paper (to make it stiffer) then I laminated it. I've already said that I hate wasting laminating sheets so there is a different activity on the back! I'll share that one later!

Happy Playing!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wheel of learning:)

I made this wheel for Caden. It has 10 colors on one side with ten matching clothes pins. It was really great to watch Caden focus so hard on manipulating the clothes pins. This was a great fine motor activity and another chance to learn the names of the colors. Bonus: I also wrote the name of the color so He's learning word recognition at the same time!

I laminated this wheel so that it would last a long time and I HATE wasting laminating sheets so I needed to think of something for the back as well! In comes the counting side! The idea is to count the stars and then fine the clothes pin with that number on it! I didn't plan to use this with Caden for a while but he seemed interested so we did it together. We counted together, found the right clothes pin, and then he attached it. It was great counting practice.

I plan on starting an Etsy shop but I want to see if there would be an interest. Is there anyone out there who would want one of these for their child?

Busy Book for Busy Hands

I created this book (almost completely from scraps!) for my son to use during church meetings and tried it out for the first time this Sunday. It worked great! It kept him happy and quiet for about 30 minutes! That's about 5 times longer then anything eles I've tried:)
I wanted it to keep him entertained but I also wanted it to educate him. I'll go through each page and tell you how I tried to do that.

The Cover

The first page is a shape matching game. I sewed the outline of each shape and then made felt shapes to match. The little pocket is to hold the shapes.

The second page was Caden's(my oldest) favorite. All of the animals at the top are also "hiding" in the "grass". Caden loved running his fingers through it to find the animals and we practiced matching colors.

The third page is buttoning flowers. This is the only idea that is not of my own little mind! I saw it at church one day and stored it in my memory bank for later. The flower pot is a pocket and the flowers all have buttons or button hole. The children has to match up the flowers to the correct color and then button them.

The forth page is a lift the flap counting game. Every flap as something fun to count. The crayon were Caden's favorite!

The fifth and sixth page were a huge hit! This is a great page to practice those fine motor skills! They are all pretty self explanatory but I will tell you that the little pocket has a tiny set of keys in it:)
Page seven is a counting page. The vehicles are beads on pipe cleaners so the child can slide them as they count.
Finally page eight is a magnet board with shapes that stick and little idea cards. A little beyond Caden right now but I wanted him to be able to grow into this book!
And that's all of it. So many people have told me that I should make these and sell them but I'm not sure if the demand would be out there. I do know that I have learned a lot while making this book and making future ones would be much easier.