Posted in Babies and Toddlers

Frugal Alternatives to Laminating

As a teacher, I know that laminating is AWESOME! It is permanent, it allows for things be preserved, and it makes it so the same printable can be used over and over again.

So what is the problem? For one thing, it gets expensive. When I am doing home school preschool with my son, I cannot afford to laminate all of his work pages that need it. Pages that, through natural interaction, get easily beaten up. Pages that, unless I want to make a TON of copies of it, can get a lot of repeated use.

For these pages, I have come up with a few alternatives:

Use plastic sheet protectors. Just remember that the higher quality of the sheet protector, the more use you will be able to get out of it.

Make use of an old binder that has a clear plastic sleeve. I cut off the front and the back of an old binder for this. The plastic is thick, and the backing helps provide some stability for your little one’s work.

Posted in Babies and Toddlers

Keep the Water Table Exciting ALL Summer Long

Where I live it gets HOT in the summers. It is on the scorching summer days that the only way that I am going to let my kiddos play outside is if there is a lot of water involved. Enter the water table.

If you do not already know, water tables are fabulous! They are exactly what they sound like: a table that holds water for exploring and play.

The one minor issue… like with all things, you kids can will start to loose their interest in it if you don’t change things up every so often. Having already personally experienced this with T last summer, I made sure to prepare myself this time around.

So, without further ado, I present to you… The jumbo list of water table activities!!! 

1. Turn it into a pouring station – give your LO (little one) all kinds of items to use to practice their pouring skills. (In addition, this is a GREAT fine motor skill activity.) Some ideas: watering pail, ladle, baster, measuring cups, funnel, and different sized & shaped containers.

2. Shaped colored ice – I LOVE having an excuse to use my silicone molds. I got one of bugs, and one of dinosaurs to use for my kiddos. For this one, place your mold on a plate for stability. Once you add water to each compartment, add some food coloring to each section. Then pop it in the freezer.

Bonus – Use colors that you know once they melt will turn the water into a brand new color. Ex- yellow and blue ice will turn the water green, and red and blue ice will turn the water purple.

This way your LO will get to have the sensory play of experimenting with the ice, AND will get to explore colors.
3. Car wash – This one is a classic. Get the water sudsy, add some toy cars and various sponges/scrubbers, and let your kiddo go to town washing their toys!

Added twist – use any water-friendly toy for this activity. T LOVES getting permission to take his little dinosaurs out with us to give them a bath.

*Note: Help protect the environment- look into using a soap that is environmentally friendly.

4. Squirt gun station – Let your water table multi task as a squirt gun refilling station.

Extra suggestion – set up targets not too far away from your water table for your LO to aim at.

5. I Spy ABC– Add some plastic ABC letters into the water, and make a game with your LO of finding and identifying them.

Bonus– Do the same with shapes and numbers!

6. Bath time! – Let your kids play with some of their bath toys in their water table! You may want to clean them off when they are done 😉

7. Sink VS Float – Use this opportunity to teach your kids some science. Collect random objects from your home to let your kids drop into the water table to see if they sink or float.

Remember – be sure to talk to your LOs about WHY each item floats or sinks. Keep the vocabulary simple for young children (“light” and “heavy” for example), and up the vocabulary for older children (such as “density”).

8. Explore Nature – Similar to “Sink VS Float,” let your children put nature items from around your yard in the water table to explore things such as if the item will sink or float, or if the item changes color at all when wet. Good things for this- leaves, flowers, different kinds of rocks, and sticks.

Science tie-in – This would be an awesome experiment if you want to teach your LO about plants and plant parts, or about the different kinds or rocks.

 

Posted in Babies and Toddlers, Busy Families, Homeschool, Preschool, Sensory Play

No-Prep Toddler Zipper & Button Practice

This activity really couldn’t be much easier.

All you need to do is find an assortment of jackets and/or bags around your home that have large buttons or zippers. Even better if you can include items with unique buttons or different types of clasps.

I took mine and put them in a pile for T to explore. I spent a few minutes showing him how they each worked, and after that he wanted to take charge and practice his new skills.

Happy busy toddler; happy parent 🙂

Posted in Babies and Toddlers, kids, parenting, Preschool, Sensory Play, Tot School

DIY Dinosaur Movement Game

Dinosaur Game

I sometimes struggle with trying to find good, engaging, active, and fun indoor activities for my kids that I know will burn off a lot of their built up energy.

Basically, I wanted to find a quick, easy, go-to activity that I know my kids will love each time I pull it out. So I began brainstorming. I know that if the topic is about something they love, then the battle will already be half won. Enter dinosaurs.
What I love about this activity?

  1. It is free
  2. It is engaging
  3. It teaches a little bit about dinosaurs
  4. It only requires a little bit of space
  5. And it burns off a TON of energy

Materials needed: 

  • Paper plate
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Paperclip
  • Brad
  • Dinosaur stickers (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Use the ruler to help yourself draw lines to section off the parts of the plate. Decide how many sections you want. My sample has 8 sections.
  2. Write a movement in each section.
  3. If you have stickers, match them to the movement; this way your little one can use it on their own without needing to be able to read yet.
  4. Put the brad through the paperclip and through the center of the plate.
  5. Game time!

List of dinosaur movements: 

  1. Chomp like a T-Rex
  2. Stomp like a stegosaurus
  3. Twist like a tricerotops
  4. Fly like a pteredactl
  5. Spin like a spinosaurus
  6. Shake your tail like an albertasaurus
  7. Stretch like an apatosaurus
  8. Show your claws like a therizinosauraus
  9. Run like a velocoraptor
  10. Swim like an elasomasaurus

Do any of you have any dinosaur movement suggestions? Comment below!

Posted in Babies and Toddlers

Simple Toddler Schedule

I don’t know about your kids, but mine THRIVE on following a set schedule. This works out great for us when our kids go to daycare during a normal work week, but it quickly turns to chaos whenever we have vacation time or even a three-day-weekend.

Myself, I am totally a lists person, but following a super strict schedule on a daily basis never has worked out for me. So I began experimenting with schedules that help my kids get the structure that they need each day, but that are flexible enough for me to keep my sanity.

My Method: 

STEP #1: I checked their daily schedule at daycare. Being that they typically spend 5 days a week there, it just made sense to try to match our home schedule to theirs.

STEP #2: Find your “big ticket” must have items from the schedule.

To me it seemed obvious that their snack, meal, and nap times should stay the same. The issue? I was not factoring in the HUGE value that play has in their days. I don’t mean playing with toys here. I mean physical, non-stop, outdoors if possible play; and according to their daycare schedule they need at least 30 minutes of it 3x a day. This was the game-changer! 

The Challenge: Weather. It has been very rainy this year, and it seems like we have had more rainy days than sunny days lately.

The Solution: Indoor high-energy activities. You can check out my list of suggestions for that here:

Once the focus-areas were figured out, I just needed to plug-in the times. Any time not-specified on the schedule can be used for whatever works best for you and your family.

Toddler Schedule

Again, “Active Play” here refers to playing outside or doing an active indoor activity for a solid 30 minutes. 

This routine helps us out a TON, and it is realistic for me and my family to follow. I do not follow this schedule perfectly everyday, but the attempt has made each day better.

Posted in Babies and Toddlers

45 Indoor Activities for High-Energy Toddlers and Kids

45 Indoor Activities

I don’t know about you, but I have seen quite a few lists online of ideas of things to do with your high-energy kiddos when you are stuck inside all day. So why am I bothering making another online list? Because anything to do with families is not a “one-size-fits-all” scenario.

Due to many variables there may be things that you can realistically try at home with your own families and things that just will never work for you. So here is my list of things that work for me and my family. It is my hope that you can find something in this list that may work for you as well.

That all being said, here is my list of energy-burning activities to do with your little ones when you are stuck inside:

  1. Simon Says
  2. Wii physical activity games or Nintendo Switch physical activity games
  3. Road Rally! (I have both of my toddlers scoot around the kitchen and living room on their ride on toys)
  4. Red Light Green Light (obviously space is a factor for this one)
  5. Dance Mat
  6. Play music and have the kiddos dance while you blow bubbles (babies and toddlers LOVE this one!)
  7. Sit and roll a ball back and fourth
  8. Inside bowling (there are kid bowling kits and some good DIY ones you can make)
  9. Make a fort
  10. Put up pop-up tents and let the kids play around in them
  11. Indoor obstacle course
  12. Pretend play (T likes to pretend to be a dinosaur)
  13. Movement Songs (You can Google a whole ton of these. YouTube is especially great for this, because you can see the lyrics and see how to do the movements.)
  14. Scavenger Hunt
  15. Yoga
  16. Exercise video
  17. Brain Breaks (Again, YouTube has a lot of options for this one.)
  18. Clean the house
  19. Hide-and-Seek
  20. Mother May I?
  21. Push a Tonka Truck (or large toy car) around the house
  22. Balloon Volley Ball
  23. Ring Around the Rosie
  24. Pretend to be an animal
  25. Juggle
  26. Mommy’s Helper (they basically follow you around and help with chores or whatever you can come up with)
  27. Marching Band
  28. Give them a big box to play with
  29. Indoor balance beam or have them practice walking across the room on pillows
  30. Race pull back toys across hard floors
  31. Bouncy balls
  32. Baby Godzilla! (Build up blocks as high as you can and as quickly as you can before your baby knocks them over.)
  33. Jumping jacks contest- See how many they can do without stopping
  34. Jump rope
  35. Practice a life skill (changing clothes, tying shoes, buttoning a shirt, etc.)
  36. Make something big!
  37. Play with trains
  38. Indoor hopscotch made with masking or painters tape
  39. Jump on a bed or mattress
  40. Pillow fight
  41. Nerf guns
  42. Color hunt
  43. Do a dance like the Mocarena or Gangnam Style
  44. Make a play
  45. Puppet show