Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sorting Box

This is an idea I've had stashed away in my Pinterest boards for a while now, and have just never gotten around to trying. I was going to do it for Erik when he was younger, but then I took so long doing it that I figured I might as well wait a little longer and try it with Paisley. This comes from mamasmiles.com, and is a really simple but fun activity. It's a great way to practice hand/eye coordination, develop a sense of spatial awareness, and develop those fine hand muscles.
Mamasmiles used an orange box that came with holes already in it, but we had to improvise a bit. I took a box that my birthday present came in and used a steak knife (any knife with a serrated edge should do) to cute largeish holes in the top. I made each hole a different shape just for fun, but I also made sure that each hole was large enough that the shape didn't really matter; you could fit any kind of object through the opening.
This next picture sums up the reaction to this box pretty well. I finished getting it ready, then I plunked it down on the floor for the littles to explore. Paisley was not interest, and headed off for a more interesting toy. Erik, on the other hand, took one look at it and then grabbed the nearest toy and dropped it in the hole.
Erik and I kept playing with the box, until finally Paisley decided to come and see what we were up to. 
I handed her a small toy and encouraged her to drop it into the hole. She was not real sure about this idea.
"wait, you just gave me a cool toy and now you want me to drop it into that dark black hole?"
We eventually got her involved in pulling things out of the box, but she has yet to get interested in putting things in. Oh well, we'll keep the box around for a few days and see if she starts to figure it out. At least it's keeping Erik pretty busy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guessing Game

The idea for this activity came from Productive Parenting, which is really an awesome website (and they didn't even have to pay me to get me to say it). 
 This all seems pretty obvious, but just in case... All you need are a few cups or bowls that are small enough for your child to manipulate and a small toy. You hide the toy under a container and baby has to figure out where it is.
Paisley got to work on fine motor skills and problem solving with this one. She did pretty good too!
Was this supposed to be this easy?
 Paisley and Erik both enjoyed this one for a little while, and then they just wanted to play with the cups. Erik started stacking them and experimenting to see what other toys fit inside. Paisley was mostly interested in trying to drink out of them. What a super easy way to keep babies entertained!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nature Collage

For Family Home Evening (more info here) this week we decided to take advantage of the nice(ish) weather and get outside. We wandered along through the neighborhood and enjoyed the beauty of the world around us. Spring is just getting going around here, and it's great. The daffodils are blooming, the trees are budding out, and it's just so nice to feel that springy feeling in the air.
As we walked along, we made sure to notice the little details in the world around us. Erik loves rocks, so we ended up with a good pile of the ones he thought were pretty. We picked up leaves and pine needles, blew the seeds off the dandelions, threw rocks in a pond and watched the splashes and ripples.  It was really fun!
When we came home we wanted a way to help Erik remember our little outing, so we used this idea I found on Pinterest, and made a fun collage to hang in our window. I won't post instructions since they're on the original post, but it's super easy, give it a try!

We finished off the evening watching a short video on creating things, since we had been admiring the creations of our Heavenly Father and creating something of our own. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Discovering Textures; Sticky

I've seen ideas for sticky tables/activities all over Pinterest. I finally grabbed a roll of contact paper last time I went shopping and we decided to give it a try. Despite all the fun ideas of making DIY sticky tables and boxes, we decided to take our inspiration from "Child Central Station" and go for a sticky spot on the floor. In the end I was glad I went this route. 
I put the contact paper sticky side up on the floor and taped it down with Duct tape. I have to admit I've never worked with contact paper before (except for rare occasions as a kid when my mom used it for something, but that doesn't count) so my expectations were not quite realistic. I was expecting something WAY stickier. Erik and Paisley weren't disappointed though. 
 I had envisioned them sticking toys and things to the contact paper and building their little muscles while they pulled them off and stuck them back on again. In reality, there were very few toys that actually stuck to the paper. Most everything just brushed right off with the slightest touch. We tried to stick some little felt shapes I had to the paper, and while they sort of stuck, they didn't stick hard enough to keep Paisley from pulling them off and trying to eat them.

Paisley's socks sure stuck though. Any time she'd crawl across it one or both of her socks would get left behind. I finally quit putting them back on her after each time. 
  While the contact paper may not have turned out to be great for making toy collages, it did give the littles a chance to discover "sticky" and to explore it. They both had a super great time!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chunky Lacing Activity

The idea for this little game came from "What do we do all day?", and it was a hit with everyone. It was super easy to put together, and I didn't pay a dime for the supplies. I was looking for a new way to help Erik build his fine motor skills, and this seemed perfect. 
I had saved the rolls from our TP Mush, so it was the work of a few seconds to cut them into rings. I didn't have any wide ribbon handy like in the original post and I wanted something that would be thick enough that it was easy for him to handle. I took some scrap fabric, tore off three strips and braided them together. Then I tied a knot in each end and we were ready to go. I demonstrated what to do, and Erik took over from there. He had a blast threading the rings on there and played with it for quite a while. It was really fun to watch him go at it!
We did have to be very careful not to let Paisley get a hold of the cardboard rings. They dissolve pretty quickly in a slobbery mouth and can be a serious choking hazard.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What we were up to this week...

Sometimes it seems like I just have more activities waiting to be blogged about than I know what to do with. I seem to be able to find all the time in the world to get things typed up. Everything goes perfectly. And then other weeks, for no apparent reason I suddenly can't seem to find a second to get anything done on here. That doesn't mean we aren't doing things, it just means they aren't new to the blog, or I forget to take pictures, or I just don't have the time to sit and type.
So what have we been up to this week?
We spent a morning at the public library for their Tiny Tots Story Time. We got to listen to several stories about valentines day and then Erik got to make a valentine for his daddy. Paisley was too busy flirting with all the cute baby boys to give any thought to making valentines.
We went to meet up with our friends at the park for our weekly play group. It was a little cool, but we bundled up and enjoyed being outside for a few minutes.
We've spent lots of time practicing all the fun skills we're learning right now such as climbing. Paisley spent a lot of time trying to climb everything in sight, which went along great with the fact that Erik's big thing this week has been throwing the couch cushions on the floor. Great except he sometimes leaves them in a way that Paisley can use them as a stepping stone to get up on the couch. They're just trying to keep me on my toes.
Okay, which dumb computer person decided that the red eye removal tool in the Window photo viewer shouldn't carry over to the newer versions of windows?!
We've been revisiting some of our past activities. We tried out the tug-a-toy idea again, and I think I may have figured out how to make it work. I just have to give Erik a toy that they both really want, and the tug-a-toy commences. :)
We fun-sized our mixing bowl fun by giving Erik and Paisley my whole basket of measuring cups to explore. I was trying to get some cooking done and they were not being very supportive of that activity. So, in desperation I surrendered the measuring cups and they didn't bug me again for quite a while.
Finally, today we tried out an activity I've been looking at on Pinterest, and while it wasn't a great success, it wasn't a total flop either. It was supposed to be today's Paisley post, but I decided to give it another try and write about it in a day or two. Tune in next week to see what it was!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Toilet Paper Mush

Okay, I know the name sounds a little iffy, but stick with me! This one was so much fun!! The original idea comes from Play Create Explore, and we had a great time with it! I honestly wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. The original post describes it as being like play dough with a mashed potato consistency. I read through the instructions and all the comments before I got going, and I was glad I did, because the recipe calls for Borax, which I would've blindly thrown in if I hadn't read in the comments that it is highly toxic if ingested. A bit more reading revealed that the Borax was only in there to act as a preservative, and if you're okay with your TP mush not lasting for days than you don't need to put it in. So I left it out. Here are the rest of our supplies all gathered together:

- 2 to 4 rolls toilet paper (I bought the cheap stuff from the dollar store for this project)
- 1 bar ivory soap
- warm water
- cheese grater
- large bowl or container
I tried to find anything  I could that would be fun to play with in the mush, but not knowing what it was going to be like made that tricky. The citrus juicer and the sieves were not much fun, but everything else was great.  

I've actually been wanting to do this activity for a while now, but I thought it might be more fun for Erik with a friend so we've been waiting until we could coax someone to come play with us. Erik's friend Cameron came and joined in the fun with us. He was a great helper when it came to unrolling the toilet paper!

 Once we got the paper all unrolled and the cardboard tubes out of the way we combined everything together into a big plastic bin. The original poster doesn't say how much water to use, but I ended up pouring in a full 2 quart pitcher of warm water. I imagine it would be slightly different depending on how much and what brand of toilet paper you used (we bought a 4-pack at the dollar store, so we used all four rolls of very thin/cheap paper). Mix it all together with your hands (a wooden spoon just doesn't cut it, believe me!) and have a ball!
This stuff would work great for an outdoor messy mock snowball fight (as long as it didn't get into anyone's eyes). Maybe we'll get some goggles and give it a try one of these days. 

He really did have fun with this, don't let this picture fool you. 
The texture of this stuff was really interesting. I expected it to be heavy and dense like wet toilet paper is, but the dissolved soap made bubbles as we played with it and it actually became a really neat foamy consistency. It looked really dense, so it was neat to scoop up a handful and be surprised by the airiness of it. When the kids started to get a little bored, we added in a bunch of food coloring and that got their attention for a little bit longer. Looking back I wish I'd put in several different colors, but we just did one. It would've been more fun to mix the colors around. Oh well, that just means we'll have to do it again!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Crawling Obstacle Course

Paisley is getting so good at getting around independently so  I decided it was time to make things a little more challenging. I want her to develop her gross motor abilities and gain a sense of accomplishment for having completed a hard task. Taking my inspiration from here, I created a small obstacle course for her to work her way through. 
I started with Mountain Climbing again, since that was already familiar. 
 This time though, I added a tunnel!. Paisley took a little time warming up to the idea. She'd sit and look through it at me (who was offering toys and anything else I could think of as encouragement) and you could tell she wanted to get to the other side, she just didn't want to go through it.
 A couple of times she started and then decided that it wasn't for her. Too dark and scary...
 Finally though, she got up enough courage and went for it. She was so excited and proud of herself! It was really cute.
Next time we'll add some stacks of blocks she has to either push over or negotiate her way around. She's going to be an expert at obstacle courses!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mastering Mundane Monday Morning Mommy Madness

Wow, say that three times fast. Or even once.
I love the weekends. It's so nice to have hubby home during the day and to get to do things together. Even if you don't do anything special, it's just nice to have a break from the doldrums of day to day life. We had a very nice weekend, starting with the groundbreaking for a new building for our church Saturday morning. Then we hit the hardware store and picked up supplies to do a fun project while Erik took his nap. Sunday was church and a going away party for some of our dear friends who are moving tomorrow. We came home and finished off the evening by enjoying our current favorite TV show (any Downton Abbey fans out there?).
And then I woke up this morning. And life was back to normal. Changing poopy bums, wiping boogery noses, trying to stuff spoonfuls of messy food into uninterested mouths. I was sitting and watching Erik and Paisley playing and just feeling kinda bored. If I try to read a book Erik either rips it out of my hands, rips the pages, or just climbs into my lap with a book of his own. If I try to cook I have a baby hanging on each leg. Crafty things like crochet or embroidery are out of the question. Housework, with two babies tagging along, are you nuts? I knew I needed to do something before the cabin fever took over completely.
Then Erik came up with the perfect solution. He came over and asked for some music. He LOVES music and so we keep a CD of fun music in our DVD player all the time so that when Erik asks we can just hit play and it's ready to go. We switch out the CD every couple of days so we (meaning the grown-ups, I don't think Erik cares) don't lose our minds. I got up and hit the button and the music started. Pretty soon Erik was dancing away (he's pretty funny, if you're interested in seeing him dance, you can check it out here). That made me giggle, which started to shake off the bored haze in my brain. Then he came over and wanted me to dance. Why not? I scooped him up and we twirled around the floor. A few minutes later it was Paisley's turn and she and I dodged Erik as we two-stepped across the room.
Don't judge me because of my son's outfit. He picked out his clothes today, not me. 
This only lasted maybe five minutes tops, but it was enough. The spell was broken and I remembered why I love doing what I do. My life hasn't changed. The remainder of the morning involved plenty more poop and boogers and messes made, but it was okay. Are you stuck in the day-to-day doldrums, or suffering from Mundane Monday Morning Mommy Madness? If so, maybe you should try taking a page out of our book and kick up your heels. Maybe it will help to put a smile on your face, and maybe even build some fun memories. Don't like to dance? What do you do to shake the blues?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Too Nice to Tug

I've been trying for about a week now to get Paisley interested in playing Tug-a-toy but she just won't have anything to do with it. Basically it's the same as tug-o-war, except you encourage your child to grab one end of a toy while you gently pull on the other. The idea is to have some fun while building balance and upper body strength. Our problem is that Paisley is just too nice to fight over a toy with me. I'll make sure she's really excited about the toy, and let her play with it for a moment, but as soon as I reach for it she drops it. I've tried and tried, but it's just not gonna happen.
I considered just pretending that in this picture she was pulling on the toy and we were making it work, but that just seemed silly. Of course everything we try isn't going to be perfect, so why pretend. 
So why even post this if it didn't work? Well, I'm sure that there's someone else out there who has a baby who would love this game, and maybe that someone reads this blog, so here you go mysterious someone. I hope you and your baby have a grand game of Tug-a-Toy.