Tag Archives: two year old activities

Christmas Activity Advent Chain

My mom always made an advent chain with activities every Christmas. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories. My sister and I looked forward to doing something new together every day. Now that Buddy is two, I think he’s finally ready for his own Christmas activity advent chain.

To start, I brainstormed a list of possible activities. I looked at my local park district and library websites for special events to do. Then, I found a bunch of easy activities on Pinterest. I also included some activities I remembered doing from my childhood.

Once I had my list, I made a calendar for what we’re doing each day. My mom said sometimes she had to switch links between days, and I’m sure I will have to do that too. I filled in the special events we will go to, and then I filled in the rest of the activities. There are several different categories of types of activities, and I tried to spread them out evenly.

I’m including all of my ideas below, even ones that I won’t use this year.

Crafts

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Construction paper snowman
  • Use Christmas stickers to make a Christmas scene
  • Christmas coloring pictures
  • Make a paper plate wreath

Doing Things for Others

  • Make ornaments to give to family
  • Buy a toy for an angel tree or Toys for Tots
  • Draw holiday cards for family
  • Donate coins to Salvation Army
  • Choose toys to give away

Food

  • Eat a candy cane and read a book
  • Drink hot cocoa
  • Coca colas in glass bottles (a favorite as a child, but Buddy’s not ready for that yet)
  • Make toast with green and red sprinkles
  • Decorate Christmas cookies
  • Make chocolate dipped pretzels

Christmas Activities

  • Learn Jingle Bells and sing for others
  • Christmas dance party
  • Go to the library to check out Christmas books
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • Play with “snowballs” (cotton balls)                        
  • Find a hidden surprise (this year it is a new ornament for our tree)
  • Make a tree with Play doh and decorate with sequins or pop beads.
  • Visit Santa
  • Set up the Nativity
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Read a Christmas story

I’d love more ideas to do this year, and to save for future years. If you have any great ideas, please share in the comments.

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Cooking with Kids: Apple Pie

Hubby loves to cook and bake. (I’m so lucky!) Both of us have been trying to teach those skills to Buddy whenever we can. A few weeks ago, apples were on sale, so Hubby and Buddy decided to make apple pie. Hubby has made this recipe himself, and adjusted it after several tries. (The full recipe is listed at the bottom of this blog.)
To start, Hubby peeled 9 apples. Then, he had Buddy put the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. He asked Buddy to give the salt a few shakes, and he pre-measured the other dry ingredients. 
While Buddy had lunch, Hubby sliced the apples. Then they added them into the dry mixture together. Hubby added a little lemon juice on top.
Hubby put a pre-made pie crust into the pie pan, and then he poured in the apple mixture. They added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter on top of the apples. Then Hubby put the pie crust on top. Finally, Buddy coated the top of the pie crust with an egg wash. Then it baked for 50 minutes at 425 degrees. 
This pie was amazingly delicious, and Buddy was so proud that he helped.
Apple Pie Recipe
6-7 large Granny Smith apples (or 8-9 small apples), cored/peeled
Dry Mixture:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
Mix apples/dry mixture, add one squeeze of lemon juice.
Pour apple mix over unrolled pie crust, top with cinnamon and nutmeg,
Add 1 tbsp butter cut into four small squares.
Cover with 2nd pie crust, sprinkle with light addtional cinnamon and sugar. Cut slits into crust to vent. Brush on an egg wash made from one egg and a tablespoon of water.
Cook at 425 degrees about 45-50 minutes.
Let sit for a couple hours to cool and allow liquid in filling to congeal.

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Floating Letters

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.

Buddy pushed a chair over to stand on while playing in the water. He helped me choose some letters and numbers to put in the water. Eventually we dumped them all 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.

Fall Tree Foil Painting

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.

I gave Buddy a brush to paint the tree trunk, and I helped him make the lines for the trunk and branches. 

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.

While Buddy’s painting wasn’t perfect, I thought it was pretty good for a two-year old. He had a lot of fun, and he was  very proud of the final product. 

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Easy Chores for a Two Year Old

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.

Carrying Mail

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.

Wiping Tables

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.

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Five Fun Things To Do With a Play Tunnel

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.

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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.

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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!

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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:

 

Games

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.

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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!

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