Monthly Archives: September 2017

Shape Sorting Sensory Activity

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. 

Trucks make everything more fun!

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.




Dinosaur Play Plate

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.

Then, Buddy decided to shake the rocks in the box and pour them out. He thought this was a lot of fun as well. 

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!


25 Fun and Free Printables for Toddlers

I love when I find easy activities to print and use with Buddy. There are so many mom blogs with awesome activities ready to use! This week, I wanted to feature my favorite printables that I’ve tried with Buddy, as well as some that I’m looking forward to using. Almost all of the ones I’ve used have been laminated with my Scotch laminator (affiliate link), which I love! It makes it easy to save these activities to use again and again.

Matching Activities

Buddy loves matching activities! We tried this truck one from Royal Baloo’s blog, and Buddy loved it! There were a lot of cards and many similar ones (several different police cars, fire trucks, etc.), so the second time through I edited it down to one of each type of car. He’s so into cars right now, so this was perfect for him.

Other matching printables:


Scavenger Hunts


I blogged about our nature scavenger hunt earlier this summer (read about it here.) The printable we used was from Life With My Little’s blog. Her pictures made it really easy for Buddy to know exactly what we were looking for. And we both had so much fun finding the things on this list.

Other scavenger hunt printables:



I loved this shape board game from Simple Fun for Kids’ blog. Buddy and I tried it out on one of our Time to Read Tuesdays after reading a shape book. We used shape buttons to be our markers. The shape die got a little crumpled, but the game was a lot of fun. This was Buddy’s first board game, and he really liked it.

Other toddler game printables:


Movement Activities

These construction movement cards are another amazing printable from Royal Baloo. Buddy had a lot of fun picking up one card at a time and moving like that construction vehicle. It was a great way for Buddy to work on his gross motor skills in a fun way.

Other movement printables:


Book Activities

Since I’m a teacher, I get really happy when I find great activities that go along with a book. It’s so important to read, and the activities make it extra fun. 1+1+1=1’s blog has so many great book related printables, including these ones that we used with the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (affiliate link)

Other book printables:


Duplo Activities

Buddy loves Duplos, so I put together a Duplo Busy Bag for our summer plane trips. I took pictures of many different small Duplo scenes that could be made from the blocks in the bag. He really loved picking out a picture to make, and then putting it together himself.

Other Duplo activities:

After looking back through my Pinterest boards to find these printables, I’m reminded of a lot of new fun ideas to try with Buddy. Hopefully you found something that was helpful for you too! Please comment if you have any other great printable links for toddlers.







Easy Ways to Entertain a Toddler at an Airport

My family traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Labor Day. We love to travel, and a three day weekend is the perfect excuse to fly somewhere new. I’ve written several times about activities I’ve done with Buddy on airplanes (read more here, here, and here). However, the things we do in the airport are completely different.

When we have extra time in an airport, I try not to pull out our airplane toys. If Buddy plays with them before the flight, they’re not as entertaining on the flight. Also, I don’t want him to sit for any longer than he has to since he has to sit for a long time on the flight. So here are some of the things we’ve done together in the airport.

1. Watch Planes

This is by far our favorite airport activity! Buddy is so happy to watch everything going on outside the airport. He loves the planes, trucks, and people. On one of our trips earlier this summer, one of the airport workers saw us watching and gave us a big wave! This activity keeps Buddy occupied for a long time. He was very frustrated in Jackson Hole this morning because in that airport, there are no jet ways and as a result, the planes are farther out and hard to see. But in most airports, it isn’t difficult to find a window with a great view.

2. Sing Songs

We do this most often when we’re waiting in lines at the airport. (Usually that’s waiting to get through security or on the plane.) “Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald” are great ones because you can add a lot of verses to make the song last a long time.

3. The Color Game

Buddy and I play this game every time we are waiting in line at the grocery store, and it works well in airports too. I say a color, and he has to guess what I’m looking at based on the color. Then he picks a color, and I have to find his item. (Buddy still likes to point as his object when he says the color, so he needs to work a little on this part of the game.) On this trip, we played in a gift store. Fortunately, Buddy can be in a store and not want to buy everything. However, if your toddler doesn’t do well in gift shops, this can be played anywhere in the airport.

Buddy found my “something black.”

4. Exploring 

I try to give Buddy time to stretch his legs before getting on the plane. Usually, that means we just walk around to see what we can find. Today, we found a small dog that let us pet him. Then we found a couch made with cow hide. (I thought it was kind of gross, but Buddy liked feeling the hair.) The interesting things at an airport always vary, but toddlers are curious about everything, so it’s not too hard to find something fun for them.

5. Scavenger Hunt

I have wanted to print out a scavenger hunt for all three of our summer flights, and I have forgotten every time. (I love this coloring one on Mama.Papa.Bubba’s blog!) Hopefully I will remember before our next trip. In the meantime, I just made up things for him to find based on things around us. Buddy loves animals, so when we were in the gift shop, we did some animal iSpy. Sometimes our scavenger hunts are more like, “find a square on the floor and stomp on it.” I change the game depending on where we are.

Buddy found a bear!

6. Playing Pretend

Buddy enjoys pretending to be different animals. I’ve blogged before about our animal movement game (read here). It works well in the airport too. Some example movements would be to hop like a bunny or fly like a bird. Today, he saw a movie with buffalo, and he decided to give himself buffalo horns!

If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s “horns”.

It takes a little effort and creativity to keep your toddler entertained without toys or electronics. But the effort it takes is worth it to have a happy toddler as you get on the plane. A happy toddler means a happy trip. If you have any other airport ideas, please share in the comments. And best wishes for happy travels, from my family to yours.

Having fun in Grand Teton National Park!