August 31, 2011

Connect Four.

With Red's fascination with sticking things into small spaces, he has found a love for Connect Four. It's great practice for concentration and fine motor skills. It's also easy to incorporate learning about colors. Sometimes great toddler toys are hidden away in your game cabinet!

August 30, 2011

Marble Maze.

I found the idea for this project at Serving Pink Lemonade. The mazes she has done are more complex, but I made a simple one for Red. The path for my maze is a U-shape. It was easy to make. The most difficult part was getting just the right size for the marble tunnel. The first row I stitched left to much space, so the marble just fell straight to the end without much effort. I didn't want it to be too difficult, but I wanted to give Red a little bit of a challenge. I'd like to make a few different ones with more complicated paths when Red gets a little older.

August 29, 2011

Activity Bags - Part Four.

I made my last few activity bags for our trip tonight.

I had my husband help with this one. It's a small Pringles can that he drilled so that Red can push pencils through the lid. He really enjoys his hammer bench, so I think he'll like this mini version. I like how hubby showed his crafty side by decorating it with duct tape.

I also made an I Spy bottle using a small Coke bottle and birdseed. There are posts about these all over, and a Google search will give a lot of ideas for fillers. I may have used too many objects, but I included some pom poms, foam shapes, beads, and pencil grippers.

The last bag I put together was filled with his pretend cutting fruit. I thought he might enjoy matching the fruit pieces and pulling apart the velcro. Another great idea is to take a block and put velcro on it, then place velcro on the bottom of a few toys and let your child stick and unstick the toys.

While not an activity bag, per se, we are going to be taking a measuring tape. Red loves to pull the tape and let it snap back in. He also like to pretend to measure things. And we will be taking a collection of books. I tried to select books that were small and offered an element of interactivity.

Hopefully this makes our traveling time a little easier!

August 28, 2011

Activity Bags - Part Three

I worked on a few more simple activity bags tonight.

The first is just a pen, pad of paper and stickers. It's amazing how something so simple can entertain a toddler for quite some time.

Next I grabbed a toilet paper roll and a practice golf ball. Red enjoys pushing the ball through the tube. Again, a really simple, free game that can hold his attention for a surprisingly long time.

Finally, I took some pop beads and foam shapes and mixed them into a ball of homemade play-doh I had in the fridge. A little treasure hunt makes playing with play-doh even more fun. I'm also bringing a golf tee that he can stick into the play-doh to make holes or we can write with it. (Note: the beads are a definite choking hazard, so I'll be watching him like a hawk while he plays with this.)

As you can see, you don't have to spend a lot of money to come up with activities to engage your toddler. All of these used items I already had at my house!

August 27, 2011

Activity Bags - Part Two.

I worked on a few more activity bags for our trip. Some of them I'm taking on the plane to keep Red busy, and some of them will go in our checked luggage to help occupy him in the car or at Papa's house.

I picked up some small magnets and paper clips. Obviously, I will have to watch him extremely closely with the paper clips (choking hazard), but he'll be on my lap the whole flight, so I'll be able to keep them out of his mouth. He may enjoy playing with the magnets in the terminal while we wait for our flight as well. I'm sure we can find some metal chair legs or something!

I also gathered up some miscellaneous containers for an open/close bag. I tried to find things that weren't too difficult to open so that they wouldn't frustrate him too much. I included a toothbrush holder, a barette, a band-aid case, a contact case, and a travel hairbrush.

Lastly, I bought a Mr. Potato Head toy for Red. I think he'll enjoy pushing the pegs into the holes to attach the facial features. He's also really interested in body parts now. He points to my face saying, "Eyes," or he will point to my nose, mouth, hair, etc., waiting for me to name them all. It will be good fine motor practice as well vocabulary.

I have a few more ideas for bags that I'll post tomorrow!

August 26, 2011

Activity Bags - Part One.

We are getting ready to go on a trip to see family. It will be Red's first plane ride. I'm a little nervous, but I'm trying to think positively and be prepared. I've seen some great posts about toddler activity bags and thought I'd make some for the journey. Basically, activity bags are just a ziploc bag filled with small items that will entertain your child. I'm planning to make quite a few and stuff them into our suitcase and carry-on for those fussy travel times.

Here are a few that I've put together. Once you start thinking about it, there are so many possibilities! A Google search yields a lot of great sites on the topic. I'm planning to do several more posts on this.

This is a toy we made a few weeks back that Red LOVES. We used a cardboard circular box and wooden discs from Michaels and decorated them with stickers just to add some flair. We take it to restaurants and it occupies him while we wait for our food. Our friends were amazed how patiently and intently he plays with this. He likes to try to fit two or three at a time. Of course, not only the wooden discs can go in the box. If you're an industrious toddler, your corn from dinner can go in there or straw wrappers, sugar packets, the possibilities are endless!

These little critters also came from Michaels. We did a simple cut down the middle and it turned into a great matching/puzzle game. Red isn't quite able to fit the pieces together the right way, but he enjoys trying to match them and talking about the animals.

And of course, we had to make an activity pack with blocks. I chose two different kinds. He enjoys both, and they are challenging in different ways.

More to come!

August 25, 2011

Etsy Envy.

There are some amazing things on Etsy.

I especially love
She has beautifully handmade color matching toys that are to die for! I want to get the Little People Rainbow World for Red.

Another great shop is
They have learning kits for toddlers and preschoolers that would save a lot of time if you're not especially crafty, like me! I'm considering the Fun with Paint Kit for Red's free art time.

I'm trying to fight the spending urge, but I don't know how long I'll last!

Outdoor Learning.

There are so many sensory experiences to be had outside. At our house it usually involves listening to the birds, vehicles, and helicopters; watching the bunnies, squirrels, and bugs; and feelings the rough tree bark, soft grass, and slimy mud.

We try to spend at least 2 hours outside every day. With it being so hot, we usually go out early in the morning and again in the afternoon with the kiddie pool.

This morning while we were playing in the yard, I recorded some of Red's favorite things to do. They are great examples of activities to improve concentration and hand-eye coordination. Free, child-directed learning through play...what could be better than that?!

Dropping sticks through the holes in a chair.

 Sliding pods/leaves through the cracks in the fence.

Dropping sticks/rocks through a hole in his playset.

Putting mulch through the holes of a hose reel.

And there's always the sandbox for great scooping/dumping practice.

Enjoy your yard!

Linking up with I Can Teach My Child

August 24, 2011

Magazine Mosaic Collage.

We did a quick art project today. I had tried this a couple weeks ago with tape, but Red wasn't that interested. Today with the homemade "glue," however, it was a different story.

First we ripped up pieces of magazine.The ripping was still a little tough for him, but he enjoyed crinkling the pieces up in his fists.

Then I made the "glue." I can't remember where I saw the recipe for this, but it's just 3 tbsp. of flour with water mixed in until it develops a pasty consistency (think papier mache). We started off dipping the pieces into the glue and sticking them onto the paper.

 That worked, but the glue was really thick and oozed out around the edges. What we found that worked even better was smearing the glue onto the paper with our hands, and then sticking the paper onto that.

And that's all there was to it! It kept his attention for about 10 minutes or so, and then he started throwing the magazine pieces onto the floor. It was an easy clean-up, though, because he loves to throw things in the trash. I cleaned up the table, and he cleaned up the floor, and we were done in no time!

Picky Eating.

Overall, Red tends to eat pretty well and isn't too picky about what we give him, but there are times when I give him something he has enjoyed in the past, and he won't take a bite. He pushes it away or tries to throw his spoon. This morning at breakfast was one of those times. I'm not sure what goes on in his fickle toddler brain, but I've found that giving him a novel eating utensil often helps him past his initial rejection.

Here he is this morning eating with a small spatula instead of his spoon.

In the past he has also eaten with a toy wrench, a toy screwdriver, and a toy sheriff's badge.

August 23, 2011


Since this is my inaugural post, I guess I should introduce myself and my purpose for writing this blog. I am a mom to a rowdy 14 month old boy, who I'll call Red. I have no background in education, but he has inspired me to find my inner teacher. I've been scouring other blogs for awhile, gathering ideas, and with all these thoughts swimming around in my head, I decided to find a place to record them. I'm drawn to the Montessori philosophy, but I am not bound by it. I like to borrow from a variety of sources and tweak them to fit our lives. Most of the activities I will use with Red will be inspired by other fantastic blogs. If I remember where I saw the original post, I will reference it. Let the journey begin...