Buddy loves playing in water. Several times this fall, he’s asked to play in our water table, but unfortunately, it’s just too cold. When I saw this floating letters activity on Busy Toddler’s blog, I knew it would be perfect. Buddy would get to play in water, but we could do it inside.
I pulled out Munchkin bath letters and numbers (affiliate link) for our water play. These were purchased months ago, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so they hadn’t been used. Buddy was very excited about playing with his new toys in the water. While the sink was filling with water, Buddy threw some letters in the sink.
I gave Buddy a spatula to pick up the letters. He loved it! It was a different tool for him, and he enjoyed using it. It kept this activity pretty neat because it didn’t scoop up water, and Buddy wasn’t putting his arms into the water.
As we were playing, I asked Buddy to find different letters or colors. He was always so proud to find them. Buddy actually knew more letters than I thought he did. It was exciting to see what he’s learned at school.
I happened to pull out a toy boat from our swim bag earlier that day, and I left it on our kitchen counter. Buddy asked to use it with the letters. He wanted to pour water on top of the letters. “I’m washing the letters.”
Buddy played contently for 45 minutes, and he would have been happy to play for longer. (A poopy diaper stopped our play, and then it was time to get ready for dinner.) There was almost no water mess until I let him use the boat, and then there was a little splashing. When we were done, we put the letters into a drying rack to dry. This activity was so easy and so much fun! Buddy really loved it, and I know we’ll do again sometime soon. If you have any other ideas for ways to play with our letters, please share in the comments.
I love to do activities related to the season. When I first saw this fall tree painting idea on Munchkins and Moms’ blog, I knew it would be a perfect fall activity. It has been awhile since Buddy and I have painted together, and I knew that we would both enjoy this project.
Buddy was so excited when I told him we’d be doing a fall tree painting. I showed him a picture of what the final painting would look like so he could understand what to do. Then, I put brown paint on one paper plate, and red, yellow, and orange paint on another paper plate. We always use Crayola washable paint (affiliate link) because it is so easy to clean up. My favorite paper for painting is this paint pad (affiliate link), which never gets soggy.
Next, I rolled up a ball of foil, and Buddy dipped it into the red, yellow, and orange paint. Then he tapped it all over the page to make the leaves. He really wanted to make smeary lines, but I was able to convince him that tapping looked better. When the paint started mixing enough to look brown and gross, I got a new ball of foil to use.
I have always been a fan of homemade costumes. No one else has a costume just like yours, and you can make it to look exactly like you wanted it to. My mom always made our Halloween costumes every year. She loved to sew, and she put a lot of effort into our costumes. My favorite was a Snow White costume with puffed sleeves. And my sister’s homemade Glinda costume won her the best costume contest in 8th grade.
While I don’t have the same high level of sewing skills as my mom, I do still enjoy using my sewing machine. Buddy really wanted to be a puppy, so I wanted to make an easy DIY puppy costume for him. I started by buying a sweat pant suit and some white fake fur. Buddy and I went fabric shopping together, and we both fell in love with the fake fur. I thought it would make the costume extra special and fun. It was a huge mess though, so if I were to do it over, I would use fleece or felt instead.
I used printer paper to sketch out a pattern for the ears and belly circle. I used the same pattern for both sides to make it symmetrical. To make sure it didn’t slip, I pinned the paper to the fabric before I cut it. Hubby thought my original ears were too short, so I used one folded over to make the tail.
I used my sewing machine to sew the ears, belly, and tail onto the hoodie. Since I want Buddy to use the pants again, I left them plain. (I did have to hem them though!) It wasn’t too hard to sew through the fake fur, but it dulled and eventually broke my needle. I sewed the ear on the underside, and the belly and tail through the furry side.
Aside from the huge, furry mess, I was pretty happy with the costume. Then, we went to a Halloween party and everyone thought he was a bunny. Buddy was happy with that, but I wasn’t.
I trimmed the ears a bit to make them look a little less like bunny ears. Also, I made a collar by sewing a circle of felt onto ribbon. I attached it in the back with Velcro. Those two details made a huge difference, and at our next Halloween event, everyone knew he was a puppy.
I had originally hoped that Buddy would be able to keep his hoodie for dress up, but there’s no way that will happen with the fake fur. I plan to take the fur off, and redo the hoodie as a dinosaur. In my ideal world, I will be able to do that in time to make it a Christmas gift, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Whenever it does, I’ll make sure to blog about it.
I’m looking forward to trick or treating with Buddy tomorrow. I hope you and your family have a very happy Halloween!
Buddy and I recently made baked ravioli together. I was looking for an easy recipe to try with Buddy, and I realized ravioli would be good to try. We used this recipe from Betty Crocker.
First, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and greased a glass baking dish. Then, I pulled out the ravioli, spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and a large spoon.
Next, Buddy and I put a layer of ravioli on top of the sauce. We used the fresh packaged Buitoni, but I have also done this with frozen ravioli. We ended up using two packages so we could have enough for company and another night of leftovers.
Once we put down the ravioli, we covered it with a layer of sauce and cheese. Buddy is getting better about sprinkling out the cheese evenly instead of throwing down clumps of cheese.
We covered our pan with aluminum foil and baked it for 40 minutes. Then we took the foil off and baked for another 15 minutes.
This ravioli was so easy, and so delicious! Buddy’s Nana and Great Aunt were visiting us, and they were so impressed that Buddy made our dinner! We all loved it, and Buddy’s asked for ravioli several times since we made it. I would highly recommend it as an easy and fun recipe for kids.
I think it’s important for kids of all ages to have chores and responsibilities. That’s why I hire students to do various jobs in my classroom. And that’s why Buddy has had chores since he was one.
I blogged about Buddy’s chores as a one year old here. At that time, Buddy was 21 months old, and his chores were: putting away toys and books, putting clothes in hamper, dusting, cleaning up food messes, and helping with laundry. Now that he’s two and a half, I’ve expanded the types of things I ask him to do at home. Buddy loves helping, and he enjoys doing all of these tasks.
Buddy and I get the mail together after school every day. Some days, he wants to carry it all. Other days, he only wants one or two things. Carrying the mail makes him feel very important, so he loves to do it.
Pushing the Trash Bins
Buddy thinks pushing the trash bins is so much fun. We have to do it together because, clearly, the trash bins are way too big for him. But I enjoy the help. Together, we make a good team.
Throwing Out Trash
It was an exciting day in our house when Buddy figured out how to do the step lever for our trash can. Now he can actually throw away his trash without any help from me. This is particularly helpful when I’m busy with something else. For example, tonight I was cleaning up our dishes, and I asked Buddy to pick up some food from the floor and throw it away. And he did!
Picking Up Ice
This is my favorite thing Buddy does for us. Our refrigerator randomly spits ice out on the floor, and it’s so annoying to stop what I’m doing to go pick it up. Buddy loves running to get the ice and throwing it into the sink.
Buddy and I have been cooking a lot together recently, and he’s great at wiping up the table when we’re done. I also ask him to wipe up his little table when he gets crayon on it or after we play with Play doh.
Unloading the Dishwasher
Since Buddy loves to help, he’s always eager to get into the dishwasher when Hubby and I are unloading. And unfortunately, everything is just too high for him to put away much by himself. I’ve read some mom blogs that said they had the kid dishes down low so the kid can put it away. That didn’t work for me though. I like how my kitchen is organized, and I didn’t want to change that for the sake of having Buddy help.
Then a friend of mine posted a picture similar to my one above of her elementary school age kid unloading the silverware. Her point was to point out how funny it was that her son felt the need to sit down while helping. But for me, it was a great source of inspiration. Buddy is great at sorting, and he loves sorting the silverware. I always put away the steak knives, but Buddy can do the rest himself. He is so proud, and I’m so thankful that he’s no longer underfoot while I’m unloading the dishwasher.
Washing the Windows
Yes, I make my two year old wash the windows. And it’s amazing. Washing the windows was on my summer bucket list, and I told Buddy he could help or play by himself. Of course, he wanted to help. So I sprayed the whole window with cleaner, and then I wiped the top half and Buddy wiped the bottom half. He really enjoyed the whole process, so we’ve done it a couple times since then.
I’m so proud of Buddy for being willing to help me around the house, and I hope that doesn’t change for a long time. If you have any other ideas for good chores for young children, please share in the comments.
Buddy got his play tunnel (affiliate link) as a first birthday gift. I had put it on his wish list, because I had read how great they are for young children. A year and a half later, Buddy still plays with his tunnel often. We’ve made up a few fun ways to play with the tunnel, and I want to share them for anyone who needs new play tunnel ideas.
1. Play inside tunnel
Buddy enjoys using his tunnel as a tent. We have brought books inside the tunnel to read. Currently, Buddy’s favorite tunnel activity is to throw all of his stuffed animal “friends” in the tunnel and roll around with them.
2. Chase ball through tunnel
Buddy loves balls, and we’ve used several different sizes in the tunnel. The most fun by far is the beach ball. I throw it halfway in the tunnel, and he goes in and hits it out. We’ve also just thrown the ball back and forth to each other through the tunnel.
3. Obstacle course in tunnel
Buddy’s physical therapist encouraged us to play in the tunnel to help him build different types of muscles. One activity she suggested was putting pillows inside the tunnel, and have him crawl over them. While it’s not Buddy’s favorite way to play with the tunnel, he is willing to try it every once in awhile.
4. Up and Downs with tunnel
Buddy loves to hold one of the tunnel and have me hold the other end. Then we pull it up and down, almost like a play parachute. Sometimes we shake the play tunnel around. Other times he walks closer to me and then farther away from me. Buddy thinks all of these things are hilarious!
5. Peek-a-boo with tunnel
Buddy still loves peek-a-boo. He likes to hide in the tunnel, and then have me peek in and out to play peek-a-boo. It’s so simple, but Buddy thinks it’s a lot of fun.
Last week, I wanted to find a new recipe to try with Buddy. He really loves cooking, so I want to give him new recipes to try. I found a recipe for Delicious Drumsticks in a cookbook from my childhood (Alpha Bakery Cookbook– affiliate link). It sounded like an easy, fun meal that Buddy could make mostly on his own.
I started by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Then I measured the dry ingredients, and Buddy dumped them into a large bowl. (1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.)
I melted half a stick of butter in the microwave in another small bowl. Then, I found a large spoon to help with the coating in the butter bowl and the flour bowl.
Then, I moved the drumstick to the flour bowl. Buddy used a spoon to help coat the chicken with the flour mixture. Once it was coated, I moved the drumstick to a glass pan. (I used an 8×8 one as suggested in the recipe, but it was a tight squeeze to fit all six drumsticks.)
Buddy loved using the spoon to scoop the flour mixture! He wanted to keep playing even after we had finished coating all of the drumsticks. So I let him scoop and dump for awhile as I cleaned up the rest of the kitchen. Then I asked Buddy to help me wipe up the flour when he was done.
This was a fun and easy recipe for kids, and everyone in my house enjoyed eating our delicious drumsticks. I’m sure we’ll make chicken drumsticks again soon.
Buddy still loves sensory bins, especially the construction site sensory bin that I blogged about here. He pulls out the bin of black beans and construction vehicles at least twice a week. When I saw the shape sorting sensory bin on Stir The Wonder’s blog, I knew it would be an easy adaption of our construction bin. I already had the shape buttons from my quiet book (read more here) and I had the bin of beans, I just needed to put the two together.
To start, I took the trucks out of our sensory bin, and I dumped in a bag of shape buttons. Stir The Wonder used a muffin pan to sort the shapes. I decided to use an ice cube tray instead. I wanted to give Buddy lots of places to sort for all the different shapes. The extra spots on the ice cube tray also provided the opportunity to sort by shape, color, or size.
At first, Buddy was very interested about the shapes in his bin. He quickly started telling me all of the shapes and colors he saw. Buddy was happy to start pulling them out and putting them into different parts of the ice cube tray.
After awhile, Buddy decided he missed his CAT mini trucks (affiliate link). So he put them in the bin, and used them to help scoop and move the shapes into the ice cube tray. It took a lot of effort to try to scoop just the buttons and not the beans.
I tried to encourage Buddy to find matches to put in the tray based on shape or color. Eventually, though, he just wanted to get all the shapes out of his “concrete”, so he could play trucks the way he normally does.
Overall, I was pleased to have a new way to practice shapes and colors. I think Buddy liked the variety with the sensory bin as well. The next time I try it, I may choose to use fine motor tools to grab the buttons instead of the trucks. But either way, it is a great way to practice both early math skills and fine motor skills.
Buddy has been interested in dinosaurs lately, so I’ve been looking for fun and easy dinosaur activities. I first saw the idea for a dinosaur play plate on Picklebum’s blog. They used an oval paper plate, which I didn’t have. But I did like the idea of making a small dinosaur scene for Buddy.
Earlier this summer, I’d printed and laminated this free dinosaur playmat from Free Time Frolics. However, Buddy and I never got around to playing with it. I decided to cut it down to fit a shoe box lid. Then I added a few small dinosaurs and the souvenir rocks Buddy bought on our recent trip to Jackson Hole.
Buddy was really excited when he saw his dinosaur scene. He hadn’t played with the rocks since our trip, and that was a lot of fun for him. Buddy put the rocks on the dinosaurs’ backs and walked them around. He also fed the rocks to the dinosaurs.
Eventually, the dinosaurs and the rocks traveled around Buddy’s room. He saw some of his cars, and he decided to include one in the play scene. Buddy enjoyed driving his car through all of the rocks.
Overall, Buddy enjoyed his dinosaur play plate. I have it set up still, so I’m sure we’ll play with it again soon. I’m looking for more ideas to do with those rocks, so if you have ideas, please share in the comments!