Posted in Activities for Babies and Toddlers, Babies and Toddlers, Sensory Play

Christmas Sensory Box 

Here are a few Christmas themed sensory bins I have made. This first one was the fist sensory bin I ever made. I thought the whole idea was kind of strange. I mean, I know that young children are easily entertained, but really? Boy was I wrong! 

T LOVED his bin. The idea is you give the tot a themed bin and some tools to help them explore it (tongs are a big hit, but cups and spoons work nicely as well), and they just go for it. It is unstructured play that encourages them to explore how they see fit. 

This bin contained the following: 

  • Cotton balls 
  • Mitten 
  • Bells 
  • Cookie cutter
  • Plastic ornaments 
  • Cinamon scented candle (for smell only) 
  • Red and green caps


    This second bin just has a red and green theme to it. I made it for my 10 month old, K, who is too young for tongs and also still puts EVERYTHING in her mouth. As you can see, it mainly contains different kinds of blocks. 

    A suggestion I have is to make a few of these bins, and use large tupperware to store them so that you can quickly and easily pull them out when needed. One bin can useually be pulled out a few times before your little one will start to get board with it. 

    Other fun Holiday themed items to put in your bin: 

    • Bows 
    • Ribbons 
    • Red and green pom poms 
    • Dreidle 
    • Toy snowflakes 
    • Most things in the holiday section of any Dollar Store 

      What are some ideas you have? Comment below! 

      Posted in Babies and Toddlers

      DIY Jungle Vines for Dinosaur and Jungle Themed Parties

      If you like DIY decorations that are cheap and super easy, than these jungle vines might be right up your ally!
      For T’s dinosaur themed party, I made one large vine to decorate his play area.

      Materials:

      • Brown paper bags (how many depends on how long you want your vine to be)
      • Green construction paper
      • Scissors
      • Hot glue gun and hot glue

      Directions: 

      1. Cut off the bottoms of your paper bags
      2. Cut a slit down the side of the bag so that it lays down flat as one long piece
      3. Crunch up the bag into a ball once or twice. This will make it easier to twist.
      4. Twist the bag vertically. Do this with all of your bags.
      5. Use your hot glue gun to connect your vine pieces.
      6. To make the leaves, use green construction paper. Fold the paper in half vertically, and cut out half a leaf so that when you open it up it will be symmetrical.
      7. Glue your leave on.
      8. Viola! All done!

       

      Posted in Activities for Babies and Toddlers, Babies and Toddlers, Holidays

      25 (+10) Days of a Toddler Christmas

      toddler-christmas

      I titled this post with “25+” because if you are anything like my family, the Christmas celebrations begin the day after Thanksgiving. If you have the goal of doing a different Christmas activity every day leading up to the big day, then here is a list you may find useful 😉

      Day 1- Decorate the house! For us this includes the tree and everything.

      Day 2- Send Christmas cards

      Day 3- Make a Christmas countdown paper chain

      Day 4- Sing Christmas carols

      Day 5- Pretend play! Our dogs wear their Christmas bells and antlers, and the little ones pretend to be Christmas elves.

      Day 6- “Write” a letter to Santa. Then put it in an envelope and have them put a sticker as the stamp for it to be ‘mailed to the North Pole.’

      Day 7- Read Christmas stories

      Day 8- Christmas shopping. Also a great opportunity to help teach your child about the selflessness of gift giving.

      Day 9- Christmas cookies

      Day 10- Watch a Christmas play

      Day 11- Decorate a gingerbread house

      Day 12- Build a snowman

      Day 13- Play with a Christmas sensory bin or sensory bottle

      Day 14- Make Play Doh cookies

      Day 15- Color Christmas pictures

      Day 16- Do a decorating Christmas tree craft

      Day 17- Make an ornament out of popsicle sticks or salt dough

      Day 18- Go on a red and green scavenger hunt

      Day 19- Watch a Christmas classic with the family (such as A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

      Day 20- Go get a picture with Santa

      Day 21- Make Christmas wreaths out of a green paper plate

      Day 22- Teach your toddler how to make snowflakes with paper and safety scissors

      Day 23-  Take Christmas photos

      Day 24- Start a Christmas Eve tradition

      Day 25- CHRISTMAS DAY!

      Extra-

      1. Walk around the neighborhood to check out Christmas lights
      2. Go to a tree lighting ceremony
      3. Make smores
      4. Sip on hot cocoa
      5. Play in the snow
      6. Messy play with a Christmas theme (such as green or red obleck)
      7. Go to (or host!) a Christmas party
      8. Decorate pine cones
      9. Have your little one help with the holiday cooking (mixing things, adding sprinkles…)
      10. Make long-distance family phone calls ❤

      Merry Christmas!

      Posted in Activities for Babies and Toddlers, Babies and Toddlers, kids, School Age Kids

      DIY Mini Dinosaur Play Set

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      My son LOVES dinosaurs. He also has a birthday coming up, and since he is turning 3 we decided it was okay to get him a pack of mini dinosaurs.

      The problem is that his little sister is only 10 months old, so the dinosaurs are VERY much still a choking hazard for her. So, I wanted to make a fun place to play with them, and also an easy way to clean up and store them in a safe location.

      Thus, this dinosaur play set. My favorite part about it is that it is a shoe box, so it can close and store all of the dinosaurs inside it.

      Materials Needed: 

      • Shoe box
      • Felt
      • Scissors
      • Hot glue and hot glue gun
      • Mini dinosaurs

      Directions: 

      1. Cut out felt land forms (mountains, grass valley, river, lake, volcano)
      2. For fun, add texture by snipping the top of the grass and making the volcano lava be loose strips of felt.
      3. Glue it all down

      I hope your little paleontologist loves their new play set! 

      Posted in Busy Families

      The Guide to Survival Mode Cleaning for Busy Families 

      In the perfect world our children would never throw tantrums, there would always be a home cooked meal for all three meals of the day, and our homes would be spotless. However, we live in the real world…

      When life gets crazy, we need to do what we can to scale back and simplify things in order to regain some control and not get overwhelmed. To that end, here is my Guide to Survival Mode Cleaning.  

      Basically, you need to prioritize. If you need any help with this step, then go ahead and check out my post about an awesome To Do list strategy I use:

      Step 1: Figure out your non-negotiables. These are the things that HAVE to get done daily. Example – feed the dog.

      Step 2: Figure out your basic cleaning needs that need to get done just for your home to be able to run at all. For most this will include the following:

      • Dishes
      • Clean food related messes (stove, microwave, etc.)
      • Counters and dining table
      • Laundry
      • Empty trash

      If you are in full survival mode than steps 1 and 2 are all that should be concerning you right now. When things calm down for you but are still fairly busy, then check out the remaining steps below. 

      Step 3: Typical cleaning list. This list contains items that you may normally hope to get done at least weekly. Things like clean the bathroom, or moping the floors.

      It may look something like this:

      • Sunday- laundry
      • Monday- bathrooms
      • Tuesday- vacuum
      • Wednesday-pet cages
      • Thursday-empty all trash
      • Friday- clean room
      • Saturday- dust

      I hope this helps you figure out what will work for you and your family. Best of luck; hang in there!

      Posted in Babies and Toddlers, kids, parenting

      DIY Baby Photoshoot- For Us Non-Photographers

      Disclaimer- There are no affiliated links in this post.

      Yes, I am aware that “non-photographer” is not a word, but like my husband always says, “I teach English, so I’m allowed to make up my own words,” just ask Shakespeare 😉

      Anyways, for those of you wanting to have awesome photos of your little one, but don’t want to pay for a professional photographer, I’m here to help you out.

      Some things to know before getting started: 

      Posed photos, especially those of babies and toddlers, require a lot of time and patience. Try not to go into it with any expectations. You may get some amazing shots, and you may do a photoshoot for a couple of hours and walk away with nothing (just look up  Pinterest Photoshoot Fails to see what I’m talking about).

      It’s not uncommon to get only one good shot out of 20+ photos. It’s all about timing and a little bit of luck, so just keep taking shots during the shoot. You can always delete the ones you don’t want.

      Have fun! The more relaxed and into it you are, the more your child will be into it too.

      Supplies: 

      • A camera- These days it doesn’t have to be something fancy. Most Smart Phones have pretty good cameras.
      • Sheets in whatever color you want your background to be.
      • Any special outfit/outfits you want your child to wear.
      • Any props you want to try to use.

      Prop ideas- Some common props are:

      • Stuffed animals
      • Special toys
      • Large letters (such as their monogram)
      • Baskets
      • Seasonal items such as a pumpkin
      • A chalkboard or whiteboard sign
      • Special jewelry
      • Hats and accessories
      • Flowers (real or fake)
      • Baby blanket

      Setting the Scene: 

      When doing an inside shoot, I recommend using a bed sheet as the backdrop. Make sure anything that is in the camera’s view is covered. This may mean tacking the sheet on the wall, or using furniture to hold it up.

      For newborns I recommend using pillows such as a Boppy under the sheet to help position them.

      Lighting is key to a good clear photo. Natural lighting works best, because it disperses more evenly than a lamp does. Open up the blinds, and if that is not enough then also turn on as many lights as you can.

      Last Tips: 

      • Do the shot when your little one is in a good mood (not sleepy and recently fed)
      • Be silly, make funny sounds and faces, or hold up loved toys to get them to look at the camera

      Good luck with your photo shoot; have fun!