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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Socktopusses, light tables, and playdough oh my!

First I would like to start off by apologizing for the very lame title of this post. I swear thats the hardest part of making posts is finding interesting, unique and non-boring titles. Anyways!…

Oh we have been very busy lately. I struggle to find time to blog more than once a week and by then, the amount of pictures and activities I have to post about are so enormous that I don’t know where to start and end up putting it off. I suppose I must get this more organized if I want to continue blogging, which I do! So that being said, here is a few of the things we have been into lately….

Mya loves to count. As she is almost 2.5, she is continually intrigued by letters and numbers. She can occasionally recognize numbers by sight, usually one and two, and so to encourage this I made a little marble rolling game that is a fun way for us to practice her numbers together! We pick a number, find it together, and she rolls the marble to the appropriate slot by tilting the cardboard tray. Easy to make and fun to play with.

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My love for Pinterest is forever growing. I love the ideas, activites and crafts you find on there. I have discovered many great blogs to follow using Pinterest also. Here are a few Pinterest things we have done recently.

We made this Socktopus out of a lone sock from stray sock pile. He is cute and Mya seriously chooses this guy over her not-so-cheap baby doll she got for Christmas last year. A good reminder that less is more with children’s toys most of the time.

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Next up, is Oatmeal Playdough. I was due to make some new playdough for Mya and that is when I saw fellow blogger Jen, at Peaceful Parenting, make some great playdough with Oatmeal. Mya and I loved playing with it! It felt neat and is a completely different texture than normal playdough.

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For a loooooong time I have been meaning to make Mya a light table, and finally found good instructions and the time to do it. Super easy and a total hit with kids of many ages. The possibilities for learning and play with a light table are endless! Here is how I made our light table.

For now, I just have coarse salt and assorted items for Mya to play with on her light table but I have lots of options for switching up items for the light table which you will see on future posts.

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That’s it for now, I have plenty more to come including a baby only post with lots of fun activities for under 12 months 🙂

Baby, it’s cold outside!

The weather hasn’t been ideal for outside play lately. We are expecting a snow dump and it has been too cold to play outside longer then 20 minutes or so which means mommy has to find a lot of fun things to do inside.

The girls love being wherever I am in the house. Mya will play independently for up to an hour but Emry is good on her own only about a quarter of that time, so mostly I have a couple of girls wanting to be involved with whatever I am doing constantly. Although this can sometimes be tiring, frustrating, and make getting things done tougher, it truly is a good thing. Its important for them and important for me to spend this time, to slow down, and just be in the moment with my girls.

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I try to have activities set up for Mya for when she wakes up in the morning and after her nap. She often is excited to try whatever I have ready for her and then usually goes back to playing with her favorite activities we have available to her all the time like coloring, puzzles and reading.

I saw this fun idea on Pinterest, and left it up for a few days as Mya enjoyed it a lot. It took her awhile to adjust to swinging the ball from different angles to knock all the blocks over. She couldn’t wait play this with her daddy as soon as he was home from work.

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We had some quiet time by playing with our transfer and pouring activity. I set up a bowl of salt and provided a cup and spoon and let her use it as she wished.

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We also tried painting with spices which was neat. Mya enjoyed learning the different names of the spices and of course the different smells.

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I love that Mya will go off and read to herself. She doesn’t want to be interrupted when she does this. She just likes to sit and “read” to herself. Sometimes she wants you to sit with her and read your own book. She does this at least once a day.

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Emry and Mya have some playtime together too. Emry loves any amount of attention Mya gives her but but with both being so young they don’t really play together that often. Here is a nice moment where Mya decided to give Emry an “alphabet bath”. I let the girls play alone for sometime then joined them and Mya and I took turns taking out letters and making their sounds.

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Wednesdays for us

Today was a quiet inside day. Mya has just started to attend a Montessori preschool 2 days a week. Wednesdays are our day at home after two days of straight school, so we usually spend it doing whatever fun and calm activities Mya likes best. Her favourite thing to do with mommy is probably reading, followed by painting or playing in her kitchen.

I had a few new activity trays put together ready for our quiet day together.

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A sorting button tray, fun for working on our colors and fine motor skills.

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Lock and keys, this is a new one for her and she enjoyed the challenge.

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Her teacher told us how much she enjoys stringing beads and making necklaces at school, so I added a tray of assorted beads, pipe cleaner and string with a plastic needle for her to work with.

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I also set up contact paper on our window for Mya to decorate with assorted paper and buttons.

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Emry notices when Mya isn’t around, our house is much calmer and quieter. Although she gets more quality time with her mommy, I’m positive she prefers her sister to be near.

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I also set up Emry’s animal cards as part of her room decor, she laid in her crib staring at them for
awhile which suprised me a little as she normally wants nothing to do with being in her crib awake.

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Another classic activity that is awesome to have around daily is the sensory bin. Today we added magnets to it, and had a lot of fun while the baby slept.

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What's more fun than a foot in your sensory bin??
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Simple yet fun

There are plenty of easy inexpensive ways to create engaging and valuable activites and toys for young children. Some of Mya and Emry’s favorite toys are things we created at home.

Now that Emry is almost 7 months, she is ready for simple open-ended play and activites that promote curiosity and encourage motor skills.

Using an empty wipes container and loose fabric squares you can easily create a great activity for young babies. Emry played with this for a long time, working on grabbing and pulling and was intrigued with the different colors and patterns.

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Mya has been really enjoying practical life and sensory activities lately. I put together a classic bean pouring tray but added a magnifying glass to allow her to view the assorted beans more closely. She found this quite fun at first but after a few minutes returned to simply pouring and playing with the beans with her hands.

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One of the best and easiest open-ended activities you can make is playdough. There are a million great homemade playdough recipes you can find online. I use one that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge so it is easier for Mya to get to.

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Playdough mats are a great addition to playing with playdough. If you have a laminator (which are fairly cheap and make a great tool for creating activites at home) you can print playdough mats online free, laminate them, and use them as a learning tool when playing with playdough.

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Toddler Pre-writing

Mya has always loved to draw and color. She is almost 29 months now and her interest in coloring is evolving into an interest to draw and write. She purposefully draws an image and then excitedly tells us what she drew, or she pretends she is “writing like mommy” and reads aloud to us as she pretends write words.

We have been playing with letters for quite sometime now. We sing the alphabet and use our sandpaper or foam letters, but just recently I noticed Mya showing a huge desire to learn what sounds letters make and starting to recognize letters visually. She knows how to spell her name orally, and then pretends to spell other peoples names.

To help encourage this new interest I printed out a writing practice sheet allowing her to trace her name. I put it in a $3 picture frame from Walmart so she can easily try this activity again and again with a dry erase crayons instead of going through a lot of paper.
You can print your own printing paper here…

http://www.first-school.ws/theme/printables/writing-paper/handwriting

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I also bought an activity book of mazes to see if Mya was interested in that, and to help her with her pre-writing skills. She enjoys this activity, and especially likes to wipe it clean herself and start again. A quick tip, if you use dry erase pens or crayons on laminated sheet or in a picture frame that isn’t glass, the best way to remove the pen marks is with a white eraser.

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Playing this week – ramps and chutes

I found a great idea through Pinterest of making ramps and chutes with toilet paper and paper towel rolls. I decided to make ours with a pizza box and it turned out pretty good.

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We set it up in the hallway and used all different types of toys to see what rolled the best and went the farthest. In the end Mya decided cars and marbles were the best choice.

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Our home – set up for learning and play

I haven’t had a post on our home set up for quite some time and decided to update. Our home is not large and so staying organized and making use of space is important. For the most part I follow a Montessori prepared environment, but not in every aspect. I believe imagination, creativity and pretend play are hugely important in a child’s development, which does not always mesh with some of the more traditional Montessori beliefs.

Our blocks and building area: Here we have Lego, Mega blocks, homemade tree blocks and Wedgits. We also have a bin of assorted blocks, towers, and a great train set that we bring out to play with often. On the shelf is also where we keep our books, which are rotated frequently.

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The shelf in our play area does not have a specific theme. It switches from practical life, to puzzles and sensory bins. To the right is our felt board where we tell fairy tales or make up our own stories.

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Our table is where lots of different things happen. I often have different activities for Mya to try set up on here. We also do lots of coloring and other crafts here. If Mya gets herself a snack or some water to drink, this is where she sits.

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Our play kitchen: A favorite in the house. To the left is where we practice hanging socks and baby cloths, or hang a new painting to dry. On the right is bulletin board where we post different thing we are interested in, or pictures that apply to something we are learning about.

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In the kitchen is a drawer Mya can get her cups, plates, bowls and utensils. She can get her own water and help herself to fruit throughout the day.

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Mya’s room: She has a bed on the floor she can easily get in and out of and make herself, although soon we will be getting her a bed frame as she is big enough to safely use and sleep on one. In her room is also where we keep a lot of her imaginary play toys, baby doll items, puppets, dress up bin and games.

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Mya is able to pick out her clothes and pajamas from her drawers or closet. She also knows to put her clothes in her laundry hamper. She still needs help getting dressed but is getting better at that all the time. She has hooks by her door where she hangs her bath towel and school bag.

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Emry is 6 months old. She has her own play corner with her toys. She has just become very good at sitting so she loves being in her corner reaching and playing with whatever is set out for her.

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In her room everything is still rather simple. It is however set up for when she can crawl. It is a room at is safe for her to moe around in. Everything in her reach is safe items she can grab, play with and out in her mouth.

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At this house we do not have much of a yard and it is shared. We have a small deck which has a table and chair for Mya and her play barbeque . However we are super lucky to be around the corner from the beach and a large playground. We walk there almost daily in about 2 minutes, and the girls absolutely love it. It is about another 4 months wait for warm weather, until then it’s blankets and toques!

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