Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ideas for Toddler Days: Part 2

Here is the second installment of activities to do with toddlers (and older kids too.) See this post for an explanation and the first ten ideas.

11. Simple scavenger hunt - One of Brother's favorite books is Where's Spot? He loves to look for Spot the puppy behind all the flaps. That book gave me the idea to do a similar scavenger hunt with the stuffed friends in our house. We already have a Spot doll- lucky! So during naptime, I hide stuffed animals around the house with little clues(based on Where’s Spot?) When Brother wakes up and is ready to play, I'll say "That Spot! He hasn't eaten his lunch! Where can he be? Let's look!" Of course, I guide him to the first location (the tub, for instance) and he finds a stuffed friend with an index card that says, "No, look in the pantry!" (or the kitchen cabinet, or under the bed, or behind the couch, or in the shoe basket, etc.) Finally we find Spot (always exciting) and then Brother likes to feed him some crackers. It's a sweet little activity. (Note- when I'm too lazy to make index cards, I just prompt him to go to the next place verbally, "No? Let's look in the closet!" Now that he has the hang of it, he checks all the usual places without much prompting. This means I have to find new places to hide Spot or the game is over too soon!)
12. Have a parade- Throw on some dress-up clothes, grab some noisemakers or instruments, and start marching around the house. Toddlers don't need a big reason to parade. Their natural exuberance is always on the verge of a parade anyway! You can do this with just one child if you load up some dolls and stuffed friends into a wagon, stroller, etc. But it does work better with a few more kids or adults. Sometimes just getting siblings or a playmate to join the parade can make it more festive. You can have a generic parade any time or you can do a "special" parade. Here are some fun ones:
  • Chinese New Year parade: Make a Chinese dragon (you can make this as simple or complex as you like. It works well to make a "head" out of a box or even a paper plate and then attach a length of fabric with crepe paper streamers hanging off.) Add a drum and cymbal and you're a parade waiting to happen.
  • Wild Thing Rumpus: One of our favorite books is Where the Wild Things Are. If you make some wild thing masks, you can have a terrific rumpus of your own. This can be a parade or can just deteriorate into general silly behavior. A drum or two and some rhythm instruments help a lot. Here's a sample mask found on Flickr to inspire you. I neglected to photograph our masks when we made them (bad mommy!) but I'll do so the next time we decide to rumpus.
  • 4th of July: This is not a new idea, of course. But it's a classic reason to parade. If you don't already participate in a parade, this is your chance! See if you can round up some friends and family for a parade. Decorate wagons, bikes, strollers, and yourself, and march on!
  • Birthday Parade: I love the idea of everyone getting dressed up in a silly way (covered in crepe paper, balloons, and a party hat) and parading the birthday child around the house and yard. Brother thought it was a FABULOUS way to start his 2nd birthday- definitely a new tradition in our house.

13. Sorting Box - Sister has always loved small things, so one day when I was at the craft store, I got inspired to create a "sorting box" for her. (Also could be a counting box.) I bought lots of little miniatures and put them together in a blue box. She and Brother both love it. Recently I added a sorting tray bought from this preschool source (awesome stuff, good prices) and it has added a new level to the sorting.
14. Play-Doh - OK. This is nothing new, and Beth even mentioned making homemade playdough on her list. But I will expand and tell you some of the things that have kept Brother and Sister interested: straws of various size and length, small birthday candles (they make birthday cakes and have little parties), coffee stirrers, clay molds, making imprints with shells and other plastic toys, forks, knives, doll footprints and animal tracks, etc., I thought this was a great idea too.
15. Print out ideas from your favorite blogs- There are SO many ideas out there; so many incredibly talented and creative people!!! But I've found that if I don't print out the idea promptly, I forget it. Or I remember it but forget where to find it. Or I remember where to find it but forget when, and spend an hour searching through blog archives. So now I've started an idea binder and I keep all the ideas, crafts, and recipes I want to try in one spot. Here are just a few of my favorites that live in my binder:
- Amy over at Inspire Co. is very, well, inspiring! I love her blog and all her ideas. I especially love this idea for Easter and this one for creating a magnet play area. You also need to see this room Amy designed/decorated for her foster children. She is just an amazing person!
- I love this idea for making stickers from Mary Beth's blog, Salt and Chocolate. She is so creative and crafty, even with her son going through treatment for Cancer. Look at these little books she made for her son to "write" in.-I simply must make these doll mermaid tails for some of Sister's dolls. (From Angry Chicken.)

- Kate's Thanksgiving table runner is a must for this fall. And the Easter one is so cute it hurts me.

And there are so many more! So start printing them out and saving them for yourself! (Obviously not for any copy-catting or commerial purpose, but I don't need to tell you that.)
16. Throw a surprise party for someone special - My kids are REALLY into parties right now. They love an occasion, and at their ages, it doesn't take much to make a humdrum afternoon into a party scene. It's fun to pick someone (like Daddy) and tell them that we're going to throw him a surprise party for being such a great Daddy (or Grandma because she has been under the weather), etc. Then we bust out the party bin and blow up balloons, hang streamers, etc. I usually have thought ahead enough to be prepared to whip up some cupcakes or cookies, and then we're ready to surprise our special person. Adding a few family members or friends gives it a special party feel. You can take it as far as you want, or be as simple as you want. You can also get creative and throw the party for an imaginary friend, stuffed animal, etc. Adding a game or craft makes it even better. Whether big or small, your little ones will think a party rocks.

17. Collage Caddy - Collage is such a great activity for young ones because it's so easy to do. All you need is something to glue on, some glue, and some things to glue down. There are hundreds of ideas out there (dried pasta, beans, seeds, leaves and flowers, torn paper, pictures from magazines, photographs, bits of fabric and trim, pom poms, sequins, stickers, cotton balls, ETC.!) Anyway, to make this an easy go-to activity I created a little collage caddy of materials so we could always make some art on the fly. All you need is glue (I prefer good old white Elmer's- I have NEVER been able to get glue sticks to work worth a hoot!), scissors (safety ones for little kids), and some materials. I like to keep it fresh, and change out the offerings on a fairly regular basis. I have also found that the front and back of a shirt box (or cereal box) are GREAT surfaces for collage. You can either cut off the sides or leave them on for the look of a stretched canvas.
18. Cardboard construction - OK. I'll admit that I haven't done this one yet, but it's high on the list of summer activities. I am gathering as much cardboard as possible- boxes of all sizes, toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, etc. along with lots of fastening things like masking tape, clear tape, electrical tape, duct tape, etc. and help my kids to construct something. These websites inspire me. (Though I am sure ours will look NOTHING like them and will more closely resemble a BIG BLOB.

19. Songs and rhymes: Being a former teacher, I have lots of songs, chants, and fingerplays in my repertoire. But, my "early-morning with little kids coma" often prevents me from thinking of them off the top of my head. I really wanted to try a "circle time" with my kids this summer, so I made a small flip book featuring our favorites. On each card I have the words and a coordinating photo or picture. I laminated them (at the DH's school- poaching the laminator!) and bound the cards with rings. Now we can flip through and choose our songs and rhymes easily. I will also tell you that this is an excellent activity to promote emerging literacy!
20. Activities with paint chips - One of my friends is homeschooling the Montessori way and she shared these great ideas. Go to the hardware store and snitch some paint chips. Start out by simply matching swatches- start with primary colors and have two of each chip. Next make a set with have primary plus orange, purple, green, pink, white, grey, brown, and black. Match those! Then, make a third set with varying shades of each color so the kids can put them in order from lightest to darkest. The more shades of each color you gather, the more complex this game gets. You can also play a game with these: give your child a color swatch and have them find an object of that color somewhere in the house (or outside.)

OK, back tomorrow with 21-30!


Likely said...

Loving your ideas susan! Do you mind if I link some of them??? Let me know if you want to collaborate on anything.

Jessica said...

I love all of these ideas. I'm not a mama (yet!) but I am a teacher and a lover of all little ones. I spend a lot of time in preschool, where I am going to take some of your ideas this very afternoon. I just came upon your blog and I love it. I'm adding it to my favorites so I can read it all when I get home tonight! Again, thanks so much list of ideas-it is GREAT!

amy said...

Wow! what a wonderfully generous thing to do! Thanks so much. And thanks for saying such nice things about me.


Marci said...

Your ideas are original and creative. With your permission I may even add some to my website (I'll give you credit of coarse): http://www.highprincess.com/princessparty.html.