Toddler Activities

Invitation to Play: Halloween

This is the first year that our toddler has really gotten excited about costumes and trick-or-treating so I’ve really enjoyed celebrate the holiday in many ways with her! I set out some beans, split peas, pom poms, foam characters and kinetic sand for a Halloween themed play tray for this week.

If you don’t have Kinetic Sand yet, you need some We have a couple packs of purple and I’m planning to get some of the sand-colored sets! It is the most relaxing to play with – I think I have as much fun as our toddler when we get it out.

It holds its shape for long enough that you can mold it, but still manages to be soft and pliable. Kinetic Sand doesn’t dry out which is perfect because I can leave it out in our play tray or flisat table without ruining it. It is mostly easy to clean up, unlike actual sand, although I have a hard time vacuuming every bit up from our Berber carpet. Still, all in all I highly recommend!

Baking

Baking: Halloween Cookies

Baking has always been one of my favorite hobbies and with two kiddos I don’t get a chance to do it as often as I used to, so if we get some quiet time while little miss naps, I often invite Miss 3 to join me in baking.

Last week we dug out our autumn cookie cutters, picked up some Halloween sprinkles, and decided to make a batch of sugar cookies.

When it came to decorating, I think Miss 3 ate more of the sprinkles than she actually sprinkled. I used a plastic plate with divided sections for sprinkles and it helped keep them mostly contained! We did a little frosting with sprinkles on half of them and sugar sprinkles on the other half. The mix made about 16 very large cookies, so if your cookie cutters are not gigantic like ours, you could probably easily make two dozen.

I was really lazy and made cookies from a mix this time and they turned out mostly blob-shaped, so I definitely need a recipe that holds shape better. If you have an amazing sugar cookie recipe, please share!

Children's Literature

bookroo box

We love books at our house and one of the highlights of every month is the day that our bookroo box arrives! We have subscribed to bookroo since last summer and every single box has had a great selection.

They have a couple different subscription options for reading levels. We still get the board books, but I think soon we will start getting the picture book box also and let our toddler open those.

Each box comes with three beautifully wrapped books. It definitely makes it more exciting to open, but I kind of wish there was less waste per box. The box also comes with a little card that summarizes the books included with a short description. A couple times we’ve gotten books that we already had, but I’ve just gifted those to friends.

In terms of pricing, it comes out to a little more than you would pay to order the books online or buy in store yourself for the books and shipping but I think it’s worth it for a couple reasons. First of all the excitement of the bookroo box in the mail just adds to our daughters’ love of books and reading and secondly, the books are typically ones that I’ve never heard of and would probably never stumble across on my own, so it expands our library.

Do you subscribe to any monthly boxes? Which ones do you recommend?

Toddler Activities

Invitation to Play: Maple Syrup Play Dough

This week I made the most delicious smelling play dough with my toddler – maple syrup play dough. I used a recipe found on The Imagination Tree’s site. It had been such a long time since I had made play dough and it was much easier than I anticipated!

I think this is going to be the beginning of a play dough kick for us! The Imagination Tree has so many different and unique recipes that we need to try – I’m thinking gingerbread play dough next!

I filled this week’s play tray with some dried chickpeas, straw grass, leaves, and, or course, acorns we’d collected last week. I can’t get over how fragrant the maple syrup play dough is.

Toddler Activities

Water Painting

When I’m in the kitchen I like to engage my toddler in either helping me or doing an activity at the table. Given the option I think she would always choose to paint, but I do not particularly love to set up paint or clean up paint, so we mostly do paint with water activities.

One of her favorites is this Melissa & Doug water painting book.

How cute are these? I love that each page has its own watercolors. The illustrations are engaging and the colors paint nicely.

I think these came in a set of three booklets. There are several different booklet themes (ocean, safari, garden, etc) and each comes with 20 pages and a little paint brush.

Have you tried these? What paint activities are your go-tos?

Toddler Activities

Tape Track

Both girls were feeling under the weather and a tad bit on the fussy side so we spent the day at home. I needed a couple of novel activities to help us get through the day, so I brought out some painter’s tape and made a track on our living room rug. Does any toddler not love cars?

It’s amazing how sometimes the most simple activities can be so fun! This was a wonderful opportunity for imaginative play. I think we’ll leave the tape down for a few days and make a number line and do some “walk the line” activities.

Children's Literature, Parenting, Toddler Activities

What We’re Reading: edition 1

During my time as a classroom teacher I loved having a print-rich classroom with books across reading levels. I built up a decently sized library during my eight years in elementary education. Of course, I kept most of them to share with the girls and, since I have no self control when it comes to buying new books, the ending result is a home full of books.

The library in my former third grade classroom
Baby room bookshelf with part of our board book collection

As a former teacher I know how important reading is and so my husband and I have really focused on making reading and books a big part of our girls’ lives. There are books in many places around our home (girls’ rooms, playroom, living room) and all are easily accessible. We make weekly visits to the library, spend some time reading each day, and having family story-time at bedtime each night. We also subscribe to a monthly book box – I’ll share our experience with Bookaroo in another post! Now, we have a toddler who loves to look through books and “read” them to anyone who will listen (poodle included!)

I try to make our books seem even more exciting and novel by rotating our seasonal books and holiday books out during the year. I just pulled our Autumn/Halloween books out at the beginning of October and we’ve been revisiting some of our favorites since.

This week we’ve been reading all about Autumn; leaves falling and the changing weather. Fall is Here! covers some common seasonal activities and has fun, bright images. Autumn is a new one for us this year – it doesn’t have any words so its been fun to let Miss 3 use her imagination to tell me a story using the book. Leaves is a really sweet story about a bear and the things we can observe in nature during changing of the seasons.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! What are some of your Autumn favorites?

Toddler Activities

Pumpkin Hunt

One of the skills I’ve been practicing with my toddler is her scissor technique. We’ve practiced with scissors and also this cool scissor/scoop combo tool. I’m not sure what to call it (scooper?), but it’s definitely fun to use!

This week I set up a “pumpkin patch” in our play tray. I just put a piece of green construction paper down to add a little background. Then, I filled the tray with some pipe cleaner vines and pom pom pumpkins.

Miss 3 got to use the scissor/scoop to pick the pumpkins from the patch and sort them into cups by size. I think next time, I’ll use bowls that are a little more shallow and wide to make it easier to see what is inside each one.

This activity was definitely a fine motor challenge, but she picked all the pumpkins with the tool! We’ve used this little guy for every sensory bin activity you can imagine. It’s big enough to pick up a cotton ball, but it closes securely enough to hold small beans.

What tools do you use for sensory play? I’ll be sharing our favorites next week!