Drawing with Cars

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Recently, Buddy has become more interested in drawing pictures. Most of the time, we just use Crayola washable crayons (affiliate link) and sometimes stickers too. However, I’ve been looking for other easy art projects to do with Buddy. I first saw the idea of drawing with cars on Housing a Forest’s blog. We actually tried and failed with this activity last summer, but I thought Buddy was ready to try again.

While Buddy napped, I set up two marker cars and taped down a “road” with some painters tape and white drawing paper. I used packaging tape to tape a Crayola washable marker (affiliate link) to the back of each car. The cars were purchased at the dollar store for craft purposes, so I wasn’t worried about the tape wrecking them. It also made it extra fun for Buddy because these were new cars to him.

Buddy loved both the cars and the markers. We drew with one color for awhile and then we colored with the other one. For the most part, Buddy did a good job of coloring on the paper. There were a few times though that the markers went on the floor. Fortunately, they wiped off easily with a wet paper towel.

We did have some problems with cars getting untaped. Buddy didn’t help, because once he realized the markers came off, he was very interested in playing with the cars and markers separately. I was able to retape the cars and get Buddy to draw with them again.

Once we were done, Buddy helped clean up our activity.  He used a wet paper towel to wipe up the marker. Then, he picked up the painter’s tape.  He actually enjoyed these activities almost as much as the drawing with cars activity!

Buddy is really interested in cars and trains right now. If you have any activity ideas for us, please leave a comment!

Heart Stamping Art Project

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Last week, Buddy and I made Valentine’s Day sun catchers. This week, I wanted to do another craft related to Valentine’s Day. (What can I say? I love getting ready for holidays.) When I first saw this heart stamping idea on Housing a Forest’s blog, I knew it would be a perfect activity for Buddy.

I started by folding three toilet paper tubes into heart shapes. Then I put each heart on a paper plate with paint. (This was our first time using Crayola washable kid’s paint [affiliate link], and it was great!) I also used painter’s tape to tape down a piece of construction paper.

At first, Buddy was more interested in the containers of paint than the actual project. He wanted to play with the containers like blocks, and he was upset when I took them away. However, once I showed Buddy how to make hearts with the tubes, he was very interested.

Buddy did a great job of stamping hearts on the paper. He wanted to use both ends of the roll for stamping, so that made a bit of a mess. He also liked to see what the paint looked like when it smeared, so not all of the hearts were perfect. But overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out. I would say it’s Buddy’s best art project yet!

Buddy was really proud of his final product! I think it looks great for art done by a one year old! We will definitely try this again next Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers

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Last weekend I pulled out all of our Valentine’s Day decorations. I didn’t have any decorations for my kitchen, so I decided to make some with Buddy. I loved our fall sun catchers, and decided to make some for Valentine’s Day.

During Buddy’s nap, I cut some small squares of red and pink tissue paper. I also used painter’s tape to tape down clear contact paper. I decided not to do a construction paper outline like I did in the fall, because I thought I’d be able to cut out a heart without a guide.

Buddy was immediately interested when he saw the materials for our project. I put the tissue paper in a bowl to make it easy for him to grab. He loved picking out the tissue paper and putting it onto the sticky contact paper. He wanted to make huge stacks of tissue paper, though, so he needed a little help spreading everything out.

After a little practice, Buddy was better about getting every square to touch the contact paper. If there was a huge pile, I just scooped the extra off the top and put it back into the bowl.

When we had used all of the tissue paper, I put another piece of contact paper on top. Then I cut out several hearts of different sizes. I used clear tape to put our final product on our sliding glass doors.

This was such an easy project and a lot of fun for both of us. Buddy really enjoyed the process, and he was proud of the final product. I love having a little seasonal touch in my kitchen. We will definitely make sun catchers again in the future.

Please share if you have any other easy holiday activities for kids. I want to do at least one more Valentine’s Day activity with Buddy soon.

Five Easy Chores That a One Year Old Can Do

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My students have jobs in my classroom, and I love their help. They earn extra credit, build responsibility skills, feel good about helping, and I have less work to do. Now that I have student helpers, I can’t imagine doing everything by myself. Even though Buddy is much, much younger than my middle school students, I still want to do a similar system at home.

I have seen many lists of kids’ chores online, but every one I’ve seen starts at age two. In my opinion, one year olds are capable of helping out around the house. Just like my classroom, my end goal is to have less work for myself. At this point, these chores are about giving Buddy opportunities to help. Yes, it will be faster for me to do them on my own, but eventually, he will be able to do more independently. And Buddy loves being my helper.

Here are the five chores that Buddy does in our house. Buddy was a very late walker, so he started doing all of these chores before he could walk. Now that he’s walking, he’s even better at these chores.

Putting Away Toys and Books

We started making Buddy put toys away around 10 months old. Most of his toys are thrown in the bins that are on the lower part of the bookshelf pictured above. Around 12 months, we started expecting Buddy to put books on the shelf correctly. He knows which part of the book is the spine, and he knows that he needs to have that part face out.

Some days, Buddy’s very willing to help pick things up, and some days it takes a little more effort. Giving options (“You pick up one, I’ll pick up one. Which one do you want?”) and counting (“Let’s see how many toys you can put in the box.”) are my best ways to encourage Buddy on days that he’s not interested in picking up.

Putting Clothes in the Hamper

Buddy started putting clothes in the hamper at 17 months. This one doesn’t happen that often right now. I usually undress Buddy on the changing table and throw his clothes in the hamper as I change him. But there are times that we ask Buddy to put things in his hamper. We talk about playing hamper basketball, and he loves it!

Dusting

This one is my personal favorite. I hate dusting, and Buddy thinks it’s so much fun! He has a great time cruising around our coffee tables with the duster. I do have to do the very center once he’s done. I have also walked around with Buddy and held him up to dust higher objects. Buddy started dusting after he became confident in cruising, which was around 16 months.

Cleaning up Food Messes

One of our house rules is you make a mess, you clean it up. When Buddy started on solids, he had a lot of problems with throwing food. Hubby and I decided that if Buddy threw his food, he would have to pick it up. If that food is sticky, Buddy also has to wipe the floor with a wet paper towel. Making Buddy clean up after himself helped quite a bit with the food throwing. We started this chore around 14 months.

When Buddy is at daycare, he has to wipe the table in front of his space when he’s done. He loves to wipe now, so we let him do that as much as possible. (It’s also a great way to help Buddy wait in a waiting room or when we’re going out to eat. We give him a napkin, and he starts wiping the table.) I also have Buddy wipe the table after he’s been coloring to clean up the crayon mess.

Laundry

I know that some people think I’m crazy for having a one year old help do his laundry. But I don’t want to do Buddy’s laundry for the next 17 years, and it’s easier for him to learn now while he’s interested. I’ve had Buddy help with every part of the laundry process. When I’m loading the washer, Buddy will hand laundry up to me so I don’t have to bend over. Then he pushes the power and start buttons. When I switch things to the dryer, he helps me push in the wet laundry and put in the dryer sheet. He also helps with the power and start buttons on the dryer. When everything is done, Buddy helps put the laundry into the basket.

While I’m folding, Buddy will go through the basket, pull out the socks, and put them in a pile. Sometimes he can do this well, sometimes it’s just laundry everywhere. In the last few weeks, Buddy has started to put things away in low drawers like socks, bibs, and washcloths. Buddy’s favorite part of the laundry process is when we’re done, so he can play with the laundry basket. (Read more about some of our laundry basket fun in this blog post.) Buddy started helping with laundry around 15 months.

Other Ways to Help

I wouldn’t classify these as chores, but I like to give Buddy every opportunity I can to “help”. He loves it!

  • Turning on/off the light
  • Closing a drawer or door
  • Bringing something over to me
  • Carrying something so I don’t have to carry it
  • Putting trash in the trash can
  • Pouring or stirring when I’m cooking

As Buddy gets older, I plan to increase the amount of chores he does independently. Hopefully, Buddy will become confident in his independent skills and be willing to help our family. If you have any ideas for other great chores for toddlers, please leave them in the comments.

Pom Pom Transfer Activities and Toss Game

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Buddy loves playing with pom poms.  (You can read about some of our other pom pom activities here and here.)  However, I had to put them away for awhile because Buddy wanted to put them in his mouth. Last week, I saw some new pom poms ideas on Busy Toddler, and thought it might be time to pull them out again.

One of the ideas on Busy Toddler’s blog was to use a multi-sectioned container and kid tweezers with poms. I bought a pair of kid tweezers at the dollar store this summer, but Buddy hasn’t been able to use them yet. I set out a multi-sectioned container, a snack cup, tweezers, and the poms for Buddy to explore.

Buddy was so excited to see the poms! He immediately poured them from the cup into one of the sections. Then he started taking them and putting them into different sections.

I showed Buddy that he could use the tweezers to pick up and move the pom poms. Buddy was very curious about the tweezers after he saw me use them. He tried a couple of times, but he wasn’t able to make them work.

After we gave up on the tweezers, Buddy just poured the poms from the cup into different sections. He also picked up poms and put them into different sections. He really enjoyed transferring the poms from one section to another. From time to time, he’d dump the whole container over and start again.

Next, we used the different sections of the container to sort the poms by color. Buddy is 21 months now, and he’s just starting to understand the idea of a color sort. We pulled out a few different colors and put them into different sections.

Buddy wasn’t all that interested in sorting the pom poms. He decided it would be a lot more fun to throw them around the room. Since Buddy wanted to throw the poms, I quickly made up a toss game. I said that we get a point for getting a pom in the container and five points if the pom gets in the center section. Buddy loved this game!

When we got a couple in the center part, I made a big deal about getting five points. Buddy decided he wanted to win the game, and he came up with his own plan. He put all of the poms in the cup and poured them directly into the center part. He was so proud that he was able to get so many in there! (I guess I wasn’t clear enough about the throw them in to get the points part of the rules.)

Buddy had a great time playing with his pom poms. He was entertained for more than a half hour, which I would call a success. (Eventually he did want to try eating them, so we had to put them away. If you do pom poms with a toddler, please supervise carefully!)  I’m sure we’ll try our game and sort activities again when Buddy is a little older.

I’d love to hear if you have any ideas on playing with pom poms or other materials in a creative way. I’m always looking for new ideas for our next play time together.

 

Kinetic Sand Play

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When we were in Florida for Christmas, we took Buddy to the beach. He had the best time playing in the sand. We would fill a bucket together, make a sand castle, and then knock it down. Buddy loved this activity!

Now that we’re back in the Great White North, I’ve been looking for ideas for fun indoor activities. I came across this recipe for DIY Kinetic Sand from Baby First Blog and immediately thought of our Florida beach fun. We had an open bag of play sand in our garage, so I had everything I needed on hand. Kinetic sand has the properties of wet sand, which means it is easy to mold. I was hoping that it would be less messy (it wasn’t) and more fun (it was!) than regular sand.

I doubled the recipe and used two cups of sand. The next time we do this, I will probably prepare at least another two cups for play. The recipe said to let dry for a couple hours, but I let mine out over night. It was a little dry, so I added a little more water before we started playing.

I set out the kinetic sand and a few tools in a pan for Buddy. He was so excited when he saw the it!

We recreated the same play activities that we did on the beach in Florida. I had a small pot from his water/sand table (affiliate link) that we filled with sand. Just like on the beach, we filled, dumped, and knocked down our towers over and over. Every time we made a new sand tower, Buddy was in awe!

And then he immediately wanted to knock it down!

Buddy did a great job of keeping most of the sand in the pan. He actually was much neater with this activity that he is when we do our rice sensory bin. The kinetic sand kept Buddy entertained for over a half hour! It was a bit messy, but Buddy had so much fun, it was worth it.

I’m hoping to do some more sensory bins this winter. If you have any good ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Repurposed for Fun: Colander Activities

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I love when I can find new activities for Buddy using materials I already have at home. Today, I pulled out an old colander of ours for playtime. (This idea originally came from Powerful Mothering’s blog here.) To start, I gave Buddy a bunch of pipe cleaners in the colander, and let him explore the materials. It’s been a long time since we’ve played with pipe cleaners, so they were new to him.

Buddy enjoyed pulling the pipe cleaners out of the colander and bending them.  Then he put most of the pipe cleaners back into the container. When he saw that one of the ends had poked through a hole, I showed Buddy how to pull the pipe cleaner through it. Then, I put a bunch of pipe cleaners in the holes, and Buddy had fun pulling them out.

After awhile, Buddy decided he wanted to try to put them into the colander holes himself. This was a little challenging for him, but he worked at it for a long time. I’m sure when Buddy is a little older (he’s almost 21 months now), he’ll be better at this part of the activity.

At one point, Buddy decided to flip over the colander to pull the pipe cleaners out of the other side. I loved seeing his creative thinking!

After awhile, Buddy took out all of the pipe cleaners, and he decided it would be fun to play peek-a-boo with the colander. There was much laughter involved in this game because he could see me through the holes!

Buddy played with the colander and pipe cleaners for more than 20 minutes, which is forever in toddler time. Eventually, he needed a new activity. I decided to pull out a bunch of his small balls to put in the colander. These were a combination of our Bright Start balls, Munchkin bath balls, and other balls we happened to have (affiliate links).

Buddy had a great time putting balls in the colander and spilling them out again. Sometimes they went all over the room, but sometimes they just stayed in a small pile. He chased them all over the room and threw them back into the colander.

These activities took absolutely no prep time on my part (hooray!), and there was very little clean up involved. Even better, they kept Buddy occupied for about 40 minutes. We both had a great time, and I’m sure we’ll do it again.

Stuffed Animals in a Laundry Basket

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Buddy got a Little Live Pets dog (affiliate link) for Christmas. (He loves dogs, so this was the next best thing to getting a real one.) Since then, he’s been into his stuffed animals more than ever. A few days ago, Buddy started pulling out several of his stuffed animals, and I had the idea to pull out a laundry basket to hold them.

Buddy and I found all of the stuffed animals in our house and put them into the basket. He was happy to find some “new” stuffed animals to play with. (I happened to be rotating out some toys after the holiday, so there were some stuffed animals he hadn’t seen in awhile.) Before long, Buddy climbed into the basket to sit in with all of the animals. It was like a stuffed animal ball pit! He loved it!

I pulled the laundry back and forth, and Buddy laughed so hard! He had the best time moving around the room in the basket with his animals!

Once the laughter died down, Buddy just wanted to cuddle in with his stuffed animals. He loves them so much.

I love how easy this activity was to set up! Buddy had the best time, and it was very easy to pick up when we were done. We will definitely be doing this again soon.

More Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

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*Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to buy a product through these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my family.*

This Christmas, Hubby, Buddy, and I flew to Florida. Buddy’s Nana lives in Melbourne, and the flight is a couple hours for us.  This was our first flight with Buddy since July, and I was amazed how much he’s changed during the last five months. I blogged about our airplane activities in July (read that blog post here), and some of those items were brought with us on this trip as well. However, since I created many new things for this trip, I wanted to share them on the blog.

Currently, Buddy is 20 months old. Every day, he’s becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby. He is much more mobile than he was in July, so I was concerned about finding airplane activities that would be interesting to him and make him willing to sit still for a couple hours. Just like I did for our last trip, I put these activities in two packages. The items in the picture above were in a gallon ziplock (except for the Kindle and headphones which were separate.) I also had a pencil pouch of items with a carabiner that clipped on to the back of the seat for easy access. We didn’t use everything on either flight, but I’d rather have too many activities than not enough.

New for this trip, I wanted to make some travel versions of some of the activities that have been featured on this blog. I used small water bottles to make a travel straw in bottle activity (original blog post here). Buddy has been into his I Spy bottle recently, so I used another small water bottle to make a travel sized one (original blog post here).  I put some of our homemade playdoh in a container (original blog post here) and bought some small cookie cutters and a roller to go with it. This was probably our favorite activity. Buddy loves playdoh and is willing to play with it for a long time. Buddy is just starting to get into TV, so at the last minute we bought Kidz Gear volume controlled headphones. These headphones allowed Buddy to watch his show  shows on my Kindle Fire without disturbing the people around us. While he didn’t spend too much time watching shows, it was great to have as a backup for when he was getting really antsy. I also downloaded some ebooks from the library on the Kindle.

Other items from the picture above:

  • Indestructibles books – These are one of my favorite things for travel because they take no space. Buddy loves to read, so the more books I could bring, the better.
  • Quiet book – I put this together for our July trip (original blog post here).
  • Playing cards from the dollar store
  • Small container with a strip of bells inside
  • Window cling gels – These are one of our favorite activities. I usually get them in the dollar section of Target. Buddy decided that these were fun to tear apart, so they didn’t all survive the trip.
  • Bath book from the dollar store.
  • Oball Go Grippers Car – Small and easy for Buddy to hold. When we aren’t traveling, this car lives in our diaper bag.

 

Items in the pencil pouch:

  • Chip clip animals from the dollar store.
  • Finger puppets
  • Small toys from the library reading program (I love freebie toys for the diaper bag and traveling!)
  • Small tape measure from the dollar store – Buddy loved this! He had a great time pulling out the tape and releasing it.
  • Small board books
  • Little slinky from the dollar store
  • Roll of painter’s tape – Whoever was the first mom to come up with this idea (not me) is brilliant. Buddy had a great time peeling and restocking the tape on the back of the seat.
  • Stickers in an Altoids tin – Buddy put some in a little notebook, but most of the time he just liked to pull them in and out of the tin.
  • Button snake
  • Triangular Crayons – I love how these don’t roll and they wipe off of surfaces with just water. We actually didn’t use these on the plane, but Buddy did have fun with them at Nana’s house.
  • Light up dinosaur from the dollar store
  • Pom poms in a small container (originally for dressing!) from the dollar store – Buddy had a lot of fun flipping the lid open and shut and poking the poms into the container.

Not pictured –

  • Toddler apps on my phone – Peekaboo Barn was particularly helpful when Buddy was getting antsy prior to take off.
  • Snacks and juice – particularly for taking off and landing to help with ear pressure
  • Built in entertainment – I always try to get Buddy to have fun with things already in the plane before I break out the toys. Buddy loves looking at the other planes and things out the window. He had a lot of fun looking through the airplane magazine and safety card and pulling them in and out of the back seat pocket. Buddy also liked playing peekaboo with the big kids behind us on the flight down to Florida. On the way back, the person behind us was sleeping (“Nappy!”), but Buddy was able to make a friend next to us who gave him some grapes and showed us pictures of his cat.

I didn’t get any pictures of Buddy on the airplane, but here’s one of him having fun on the beach in Florida.

I’m not sure when our next trip will be, but I’m always looking for new travel activities. Please comment if you have any ideas to share for toddler activities for travel.

 

Best Toys For Infants 0-6 Months

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Christmas is just around the corner, and I’m already thinking about the items I want to put on Buddy’s wish list. Any time I’ve gone to buy things for Buddy, I’ve always looked for ideas from other moms. When buying toys, I want things that will entertain Buddy for a long time (at least 15 minutes in one setting) and will last for a long time (at least 6 months, and for older age toys, preferably at least a year). These 10 toys were Buddy’s favorites as an infant, and several are even still being enjoyed today at 19 months.

Disclaimer – this article contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase an item using these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting my family. 

1. Freddie the Firefly

firefly

Freddie was Buddy’s first toy. The back side of the wings are black and white patterns, and he loved looking at them as an infant. As Buddy got older, he loved all the sounds the firefly makes (crinkly wings, squeaker, jingles) and all the textures on his body. The rings at the bottom were also fun for him to pull. I love that the ring at the top made it easy to clip Freddie onto the diaper bag or stroller. Buddy loved this toy from 0-14 months, and I was really sad when he outgrew it.

2. OBall Rattles

oball-rattle-collage

We have a lot of different OBall rattles, and we love them all. They are easy to grab, and there are lots of different parts to look at. Buddy still plays with the OBall car, and I’m sure he will continue to do so for a long time. We have played with these from 1 month – 19 months.

3. Kick and Play Piano Gym

piano-gym-collage

This piano gym was Buddy’s favorite activity for a long time. There was one point in time that we loved this so much that a friend loaned us another one so we could have one on each floor of our house. Buddy loved kicking the piano and making music. He also loved all of the dangling objects. We still have this out in our family room, and Buddy still likes to play with the keyboard. So far it’s lasted us from ages 1 month – 19 months.

4. Indestructibles Books

These are the best books for travel! They take up literally no space in the diaper bag, which is amazing. They were also the first book that really held Buddy’s attention (at about 3 months). We have a couple with animals and some nursery rhymes as well. Right now Buddy is obsessed with books, so these are great to throw in the diaper bag any time I know we’ll be waiting. (Am I old fashioned in wanting Buddy to be doing something besides looking at my phone in a doctor’s office?) We were introduced to these at age 3 months and we are still loving them at 19 months.

5. Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium

When Buddy was smaller, he really loved watching the fish when he was awake and in the crib. It was great for holding his attention while I used the bathroom or threw in a load of laundry. Buddy still has it in his crib, but he doesn’t look at it as much anymore. I would recommend it for ages 0-12 months.

6. Sophie the Giraffe

sophie

Buddy was very picky with his teething toys, and Sophie was one of the only ones he liked. Thankfully he is done with teething, but he still likes Sophie and her squeak. I love that Sophie is the perfect size to throw in the diaper bag and is easy to clean. I would recommend Sophie for teething infants (for us that was 6 months – 18 months).

7. Hello Baby Mirror Board Book

It might be the reading teacher in me, but I wanted to read with Buddy as a newborn. The Hello Baby Mirror Board Book has high contrast pictures that are interesting to newborns. There are many different books in this series, but I liked this one the best because of the mirror. Buddy liked the mirror a lot. We enjoyed this book from ages 0 – 9 months.

8. Taggies clip toy

elli-taggies-toy

We named our Taggies clip toy Ellie, and she went everywhere with us during Buddy’s first year. Buddy loved the crinkly fabric and the silky tags. I love how easy it is to bring Ellie along because she takes up very little space. I would recommend Taggies toys for ages 0-12 months.

9. Exercise ball

I bought an exercise ball towards the end of my pregnancy, and thank goodness I did. Bouncing on the ball was the only thing that would calm Buddy down. Beyond that, bouncing on the ball together is an activity that we continue to do together. I would recommend an exercise ball for any age.

10. Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer

monkey-bouncer

We used this bouncer at my cousin’s house on Buddy’s first road trip. He loved it so much, we ended up taking it back home with us. Buddy wasn’t into swings, but he loved the bouncer because he could move it himself. He outgrew it at 6 months, but he loved it so much, I had to put it on this list. I would recommend it for ages 1-6 months.

Stay tuned for more recommendations for older infants. And if you have any ideas for great toys for 18 months – 2 year olds, I’d love to hear them!