Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ideas for Toddler Days: Part 3

Here are the next 10 ideas for toddler days with your little one. Click here to read the explanation and see the first ten ideas. Click here for the second ten.
And now here is 21-30!

21. Play your own version of Bubby Ball- While I think it is probably impossible to accurately describe the rules and play of “Bubby Ball", the general idea is that it involves a soft, bouncy ball, some laundry baskets, and a lot of made-up, nonsense rules. Yes, the DH invented this (of course.) Currently the rules are that Brother sits in his chair in his room and tries to throw the ball into one of the baskets. When he makes it, his Dad screams “Rats!” When he misses, his Dad screams, “Miss!” and throws it back to him. And when he purposely throws it into the closet, his Dad tickles him silly. All boy nonsense, of course. Brother LOVES it. Sister loves it too. (Of course there are additional rules added when Sister is in the mix.) Bubby Ball is one of our top “the toddler is in a bad mood” survival strategies. This type of nonsense game gets everyone laughing and burning energy, and it works for all ages. My DH has vivid childhood memories of playing just this type of game outside with his brother with balls, catcher’s protective gear, a shovel, and a hole dug in the dirt. He says they spent hours playing that made-up ball game. (Boys- what silly creatures!) Anyway, the point is that you can create silly games of this genre with a little creativity and a dose of silliness. In fact, the sillier the rules, the better.
22. Puffy sticker play- I'm sure you're aware of the fun your toddler can have with some stickers. But puffy stickers are the best for toddlers because they are easy to take off the sheet and can be taken on and off an object numerous times. My kids especially love to stick them to a window. (Note: vinyl stickers like Colorforms work great on windows too!) Puffy stickers cost a bit more, but I like to keep a few packs up on a shelf in the playroom where I can pull them out when I need 10 minutes of peace to cook some dinner!
23. Whip up a batch of shaving cream paints. This doesn't sound that great, but it is! Buy a canister of old-fashioned white shaving cream (it's cheap!) and then mix up a few bowls following these guidelines: mix white glue (like Elmer's) with an equal amount of shaving cream. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix well. Do this several times until you have as many colors as you desire. Then paint away! This paint is fun to work with and dries with a cool, fluffy texture. (Therefore, it makes great clouds, snow, etc.) We use brushes, fingers, tongue depressors, scrapers, etc. Last time we painted on paper, but next time I'm going to try it on foil and see what happens. Make sure your child doesn't eat any of this paint!
24. Get out of your house! I know, this isn't really a big idea. But the truth is that sometimes what everyone needs is some fresh air and a change of scenery. So, here are some suggestions for getting out and about:
- Go on a color hunt
- Go exploring
- "Feed" your yard fairies - What? You didn't know fairies live in your yard? Well, they do. And if you leave little bits of things fairies like to eat (ours like a mixture of oatmeal and silver glitter) then they leave little treats on your doorstep. Things like special rocks and shells, or a small box of pretty leaves, or even a little sweet. (It depends on how nice you are to them.) And there is always a little bit of fairy dust (clear micro glitter) on the ground near the gift. Just try it and see!
- Go to a green field (recreation fields work well if not in use), take some balls, and run!
- Go for a walk in another part of town. We get bored with our neighborhood and like to drive to another area of town for an afternoon walk. Lately we've been visiting one neighborhood in particular that has beautiful homes, wide sidewalks, and a great park. When the DH has had a stressful day, this is one of his favorite things to do as a family. We get exercise, and the kids enjoy the stroller ride (and the park play.)
- Bored with your park? Try adding a fun new element, like big bubbles, or letting your toddler push her doll there in a doll stroller, or taking a bag of books there to read. A mini-picnic is always a good idea at a park, especially if you can eat it at the top of the play equipment.
- Go outside to do a traditionally indoor activity. Examples: color or paint outside, read outside, play with toys outside (like blocks or the dollhouse)
- Set up an obstacle course for the kids. Here are some of the things on our course: kick the ball, step through hula hoops, fill a bucket with bean bags, and hit the baseball off the tee. Then run back to the start as fast as you can.
OK- I guess it's not so much an obstacle course as it is a course of things to do! For older children, you can add an outside enemy: time! See if they can beat their time each time they complete the course.
-Wash the car. On nice-weather days, this is fun, wet, and actually fairly productive! Kids love to feel like they're "helping" do a grown-up task, especially if it involves sponges and buckets of sudsy water.
25. Bust out the body crayons/ paint- What is so magical about face paint? I'm not sure, but I know that my kids LOVE getting their faces painted at craft fairs and festivals. It inspired me to get these books, which have been a BIG hit around here. I like this one with pencils and this one with paint.
26. Visit this great website. - I already shared a list of links to great activities from Blogland. But I didn't mention this site, which deserves its own bullet: The Artful Parent. One afternoon sit down with a cup of tea and pursue the archives of this site. You will find some great projects that are just perfect for toddlers!
27. Another site: The next blog that is bullet-worthy is The Crafty Crow. She did something I dreamed of doing (but never got around to, of course.) When she sees a great craft, project, or recipe for kids that she wants to remember, she posts it on this blog. It's relatively new, but already jam-packed with great stuff. Once again, peruse all those older posts and jot down/ print out your favorite ideas for a rainy day. This activity saved me one nasty day. It rocked.
28. Silly toddler game: Stuffed Friends Toss- Put your toddler in their crib or bed. Then sit on the floor (or across the room) and throw their stuffed animals, one by one, onto their bed. My kids like to throw them back, and it becomes a competition to see who can win the battle. My kids also enjoy playing stuffed friend basketball into a laundry basket from inside a crib. And then, you can't beat "Bury the toddler with stuffed friends until you can only see their little face." Even Brother will stay still for that one!
29. Play Beauty Parlor - For the relatively inexpensive price of a beauty parlor set from a discount store, you can buy hours of beauty parlor fun. Sister can spend some serious time this way- her favorite items are a doll beauty chair (bought from Target) and a toy hair dryer (that sounds like the real thing when turned on.) Add some hair do-dads, some make-up brushes, some combs, and some pretend make-up and you've got yourself some big fun. And don't think this is just for girls. Boys love this too, to the point that when Sister shared this at school, the boys didn't want to go outside. They wanted to stay in and play beauty parlor!!! Funny.
30. Bookmaking brainstorm - Beth gave the great idea to create a book by pasting down pictures and letting your child tell you what is in the picture while you write it down. It's a GREAT thing to do, not only as a literacy-builder, but because it affirms your child in a very unique way. It isn't surprising to me that our simple homemade books (especially those featuring family members) are by far the most cherished books in our house. Here are some of the approaches we've taken to creating books with the kids:
§ Language Experience Approach- with this approach, you write exactly what your child says and read it. (No correcting, or rewording.) It is quite empowering for children, and helps them make the connection between the spoken word and print. Look here for more information on this approach.
§ Family photo book - One of my kids' favorite books is a simple photo book that has a photo of each family member per page and the name of that family member written underneath. They often want to sleep with this one!
§ Counting book- cut images from mags OR take photos with groupings of toys or objects- involve your child in choosing and setting up which toys/objects will be used. *The only trick is to take the photo so that all the objects can be clearly seen when the photo is printed.
§ Color book using photos - This is the same idea as above. Let your child choose objects around the house or yard that show different colors (group red things and take a photo, then blue, etc.) Brother was confusing some of his colors until we did this and now he's got it!
§ Word book- Again, similar to above, let your child choose the image and help you glue it down- then you write the word underneath. Keep these in page protectors in a binder and keep adding over time. You'd be amazed at how much this can help to improve their vocabulary!
§ Non-fiction- Use photos to create a book that tells about an event, such as a trip to the zoo, or a birthday party, or a typical day at school, etc. These books become very meaningful mementos and are much-requested read alouds.
§ Fiction: Coming soon to our house... fictional stories told through photos and words. Inspired by Amanda's post about her homemade pirate movie, I thought that we could use costumes and household props to retell some favorite stories, such as Cinderella. I'll plan out the events we need to capture in photographs, we'll stage them, photograph them, print them out, and then do a simple retelling before we bind it all up. Don't you think that would be awesome??? I do!

OK- back tomorrow with 31-40!

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