Monday, September 30, 2013

Squeeze Bottle Fun

This is another one of those "busy" activities I mentioned a while back. This one has been a huge hit though, and Erik begs to do it more than any of the others.
This one doesn't come from some college class, or great pin off of Pinterest. This idea was born as I was wandering through the store and noticed these ketchup/mustard bottles on sale for less than a dollar. I've actually been wanting some of these for a couple of other activities, but when I saw them in the store that day I knew right away what their primary use (at least for now) would be.
If you want something simple to prepare and engaging for your toddler, this should do the trick. All I do is fill up both bottles with water and turn Erik loose outside. He gets to enjoy spraying water all over while also building those hand muscles. 
 Once the bottles is more empty than full, it gets harder to aim and squirt at the same time, so I trade him for a new bottle. When the next one is getting low I combine the two together and he's ready to go for a few more minutes without my having to go back inside to refill bottles at the sink.
 Erik would keep spraying things for as long as I'm willing to keep refilling his bottles. This particular day he started trying to spray each individual pebble in front of our apartment. If he'd had an unlimited supply of water (aka a less lazy mom) he could've been occupied for a VERY long time.
Building a child's hand muscles is very important since they will need strong hands/fingers to be able to write some day. The more fun you can make this muscle building the more effective it will be. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bored? Blow a Bowl of Bubbles!

Erik was acting bored today, so I opened up my box of activity stuff and let him pick what he wanted to do. He pulled out the water colors, and though we've only done them about twice now (and not with huge success) he seemed pretty excited to give them a go. True to my expectations he lost interest after about a minute and a half, but I already had him in his high chair and a mess started, so I wasn't about to give up that easily. I decided to pull out a few straws and try blow painting. Don't know what that is? Here's a sample...
You drip a drop of really watery paint onto your paper and blow it around with your straw. It's really fun to see what shapes emerge. Erik liked the idea of it, but seemed unable to grasp the concept of blowing through the straw (funny, since he's done it before in his drinks occasionally). He just wouldn't seal his lips around the straw, so most of the air was just coming out of his mouth, not through the straw. Unfortunately, the paint needed a fair amount of air pressure to move around, so it just wasn't working out. Time for plan C. I thought for a minute about what we could do to practice blowing through a straw, and then a light bulb came  on in my head. 
 I put a drop of dish soap in a small bowl of water and we went to town. I first explained that we DO NOT drink through the straw, only blow. Then I showed Erik what happens when you blow into the water. He was pretty impressed (I don't think I've mentioned that he's somewhat obsessed with bubbles right now).
He jumped right in and started blowing too. I don't think he ever tried to drink the water, he just loved the bubbles. 
 It didn't take long before he was up to his elbows in bubbles... fact, he ended up enjoying this whole thing the most when I'd let him put both his hands in the bowl and then I'd blow bubbles around them.
 With both hands busy buried in bubbles, he had to get creative with a way to pop them all. He decided his nose worked well for the job.

This kept Erik busy for nearly 10 minutes, which is almost a record for this kid. He had SO much fun!

*If you're wondering why I have this post labeled as one for "language development", I'll explain. Blowing through the straw helps build up those mouth muscles that a child needs to have to speak clearly. He has to be in control of every part of his mouth to get the blowing motion just right.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Balloon Free Play

Every once in a while my normally mild mannered happy boy has a day where nothing is right. Everything makes him sad/angry/cranky/depressed/etc. On days like this he is no longer known as Erik, he becomes His Royal Highness the Ultimate Cranky Pants. Seriously, it's that bad. Well, we had a day like that last week and I was desperate for ANYTHING to put a smile on his face and keep him out of my hair for just a few minutes. I dug around in my stash of odds and ends that I keep around for just such occasions and found a few stray balloons. He was immediately excited and could hardly wait for me to blow them up. We blew up a little one and a big one (gotta work on building that vocab. and spatial awareness!) and then I sat back and relaxed for a moment while he went nuts. 
Tried to belly-flop on the balloon. Balloon: 1, Erik: 0
WOW! Look how far I kicked the balloon!
If you haven't already, take note of the blanket fort I made in his crib in an attempt to keep him busy. It worked for only about 3 minutes that day, but he hasn't forgotten it and since then we've done that over and over and he LOVES it!

His favorite thing to do was throw the balloons up as high as he could and then yell "HIGH!"
We built muscles, built vocabulary, talked about colors, and I didn't kill my offspring, so I would say this was a huge success!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pinching Pom-Poms

 This has been one of Erik's favorite busy activities so far. He loves pom poms and adding in the tongs makes them even more exciting.
My inspiration came from here, but I've seen ideas similar to this all over pinterest. Sometimes I just turn Erik loose with the pom poms, sometimes I throw in the "pinchers", and some days I get really ambitious and we try for some color sorting. Today was an ambitious day, at least in my mind. I found a couple of little cups that were similar in color to the pom poms and then sorted only the pom poms that matched the cups for Erik to play with. 
 Don't let that grin fool you though, he was having nothing to do with color sorting. Finally I gave up and dumped the rest of the pom poms out and just let him do whatever he wanted. He just liked playing with the tongs and throwing the pom poms at me. Oh well, we still managed to build some finger muscles with the tongs, and that's what counts.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Home Made Lacing Cards

This is another of my busy activities I did that I talked about in my previous post. These were super easy to make and have provided a fair amount of entertainment. 
 The inspiration for this activity comes from here. Hers are much cuter than mine too, so I'd recommend checking them out!
When I was at the store picking up the foam sheets and the shoe laces to put these together, I made a few little mistakes. First, I accidentally picked up a package of adhesive backed foam sheets. I was not in a position to be able to just run to the store and exchange them for regular foam sheets, so I just made them work, but I actually decided I liked this better anyways. I took each sheet and cut it in half, then stuck the sticky sides together to make a double thickness of foam. I was too lazy to cut out super cute shapes like the lady at Tot School did, so I just did a few basic shapes. The second mistake I made while shopping was in assuming that when it came to shoe laces, the bigger the better. I bought the longest ones I could find, but when I got them home and opened them up I quickly realized they were WAY too long. So I cut one in half, knotted the end, and it works great. Now Erik can't pull the lace all the way through the card (although I could have knotted the end of a shorter lace too).
These have turned out to be a life saver. They are small enough to fit in my little purse, but will keep him busy for quite a while. I keep them in my purse for times like church, visits to the bank, etc and pull them out whenever I just need Erik out of my hair for a few moments. I love that I can keep him busy and work on those fine motor skills he'll need for writing someday at the same time!
For now I'm not too picky about him lacing the hole in order or all from the same side of the card. We can work on that some other time. 
*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Busy Beads

The next few posts (including this one) are of some simple "busy" activities I put together this summer. We spent a week staying with my in-laws so that we could be close enough to the hospital my mom was in for me to go help care for her during the days. This left Erik and his Daddy trying to fill the days by themselves as the in-laws were very busy with their local county fair. There was a lot going on and we needed some ideas to keep Erik's little fingers busy and out of trouble, so I put together a small box of activities for my guys to do while I was away all day. These are all pretty simple little activities that don't take much prep or detailed instructions, so they'll make for short posts, but that's okay. 

The idea for this one came from here. It's pretty simple, get some beads and some pipe cleaners and practice those fine motor skills while making gorgeous new jewelry for mommy. Erik needed a little help at first to hold the pipe cleaner steady, but it didn't take too long before he figured it out. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Practice Pouring

We are finally settled in our own home, with the hubby loving his new job! We don’t have our internet hooked up yet (and since we may be changing housing set-ups in a few months anyways, we may not get internet here at all) so blogging is a bit tricky, but I hope to be more regular from now on. For now I’m going to shoot for once or maybe twice a week for posts, and we’ll see where we go from there.

Today’s post comes to you from the mind of a desperate mom whose boy wanted to be outside despite the blazing hot temperatures of summer in the desert southwest. In desperation I grabbed some pitchers of water, a few cups, and a hubby/photographer and we all headed out to the shade of the back porch for a little wet fun/learning.
Erik is pretty interested in being as independent as possible these days, so we’re working on some of the skills he needs to be able to do more things on his own. One of those things is pouring his own drinks.
I started out by demonstrating how to pour from a pitcher of water. This is tricky, because I’m strong enough to pour with one hand, and do so habitually, but he’s going to need to use two. So, I had to remember to use both hands and demonstrate good hand positioning to support the weight of the pitcher each time I poured. I've been trying to remember since this activity to always pour with two hands when he might be watching, but I’m not sure how good I do with that. 

 We finally got Erik’s hands positioned right, but then we had the problem of the cup getting knocked over by the stream of water, so I had to hold the cup while he poured. After that things worked great!

When I finally decided we’d wasted enough water and put the pitchers away, Erik still continued to practice pouring the water from cup to cup until it had all been spilled or drunk and there was nothing left to play with. We played outside for a few more minutes for our wet clothes to dry and then headed inside for lunch.
I love a good learning activity that is also engaging enough to help fill up a good chunk of our day if I want/need it to!