Toddler Activities

Eggplant Stamps

I know potatoes and apples are usually the big ones when it comes to making stamps for painting, but I really like using eggplant tops because they have a fantastic little handle on them that is just the right size for grabbing and leaves hands pretty mess-free. (Another low-mess tip for stamping, paint the stamp instead of smooshing it into a pile of paint.) I also love the fact that we aren’t using something that would otherwise be eaten, these tops were headed for the compost anyway (and using natural paints means they can continue their journey to the compost once the art is complete.)

After we stamped to our hearts content, my son helped me cut up the rest of the eggplant so we could roast it for dinner. He was pretty excited to see the eggplant used in two different ways, for art and for deliciousness. Two fun projects with one material, and we got to spend almost the whole afternoon immersed in eggplant. Score! Both of these projects build fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and cognition and art is always good for the creative process (which has been shown to help boost mathematical and scientific thinking, so get your art on!)

Finding other “food tops” are great for stamping projects, like a pepper or end of a cucumber. I also like to cut the core out of the apple and just use that, instead of just slicing a whole apple in half. That way you can snack while you paint and still send the core to the compost. What else do you use for stamping in your art projects?

 

The eggplant leaves help to give the art texture.

Toddler Activities

Sand Bin: Quiet Time Activity

 

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So I love “quiet boxes” (and “quiet time” however rare it may be sometimes!) and here is one of my favorite quiet box activities because it’s cheap, easy, and hours of fun: an indoor sand bin!

This is just an old (and I mean ancient, I’ve had this thing since high school!) under-the-bed storage bin filled about halfway with play sand that I got from Lowes for about three bucks. I put in some wooden blocks and a bunch of matchbox cars (Kai’s newest obsession) and with almost zero effort, I have bought myself literally hours of quiet time! This is such a great calming activity that fosters a gigantic amount of independence, imaginative and sensory play, spatial and cognitive awareness, and builds fine motor skills to boot. Kai will use this first thing in the morning and before bed or rest time, and it is rather soothing…especially when I add a little distilled lavender oil. It also gives him a sense of ownership and responsibility because he is able to take the cover on and off, spray the sand with some water if it is “too dusty,” and can use his mini broom and dustpan to clean up after himself. (Though a sheet under the whole thing really catches most of the sand that might try to escape.)

It sounds so simple because it really is, but I just had to share it because it has been such an absolutely amazing addition into our day. This is literally his favorite thing, and we didn’t need to spend a bunch of money on a special sand table or sensory bin. Even though we love water play (and have another old bin for that), he really gravitates towards this because he loves making up scenarios for the cars (mostly they get stuck and need a tow), building ramps, and just digging itself can be so calming, even more so than water play for some kiddos. I love it because I get some of that much needed “quiet mom time” to take a little break, and I absolutely adore listening to him talk to his cars and make up little stories about what’s going on in the sand. It’s also been interesting to hear what other things might come up, like a friends name that he hasn’t seen in awhile may be driving one car, or he might start having a conversation with himself about what he wants to do or really, just chatting about whatever is on his mind outside of the cars getting towed, and that information is invaluable to me as a parent. This is a super win-win, hands down!

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Toddler Activities

Bookworm Wednesdays: Tap Tap Boom Boom

Tap Tap Boom Boom

Written by Elizabeth Bluemle and Illustrated by Brian Karas

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April showers bring May flowers, but we can still enjoy those rainy (or snowy, in Vermont) days while they’re here!

Why I Like It:

The rollicking rhyme scheme is fantastic for reading aloud.

The repeating phrase of “tap tap boom boom” is so much fun for any toddler. My two-year-old loves to say it even when we aren’t reading the book.

The cool illustrations have so much to look at and talk about, almost every page is an adventure.

There is some great vocabulary in this book, including words like “congregate,” which are super language-builders and discussion starters!

The author used to live in NYC, where this book takes place, but now lives in Vermont.

Keep It Going: 

Cloud Art: IMG_4888

Supplies needed:

Cotton Balls and/or Cotton Pads for clouds

Cotton Swabs for rain drops

Washable Paint

Tweezers, Tongs, or Chopsticks (for holding the cloudy shapes)

Glue or Mod Podge

Dish or hand soap

How To:

Mix some glue or Mod Podge with the paint (add a drop of dish soap to make it an easier clean-up.) and then cover those cotton balls/pads!

Using tweezers or tongs, place the sticky clouds on the paper.

Add some drops of rain using the cotton swabs.

Why bother? This is a great way to build fine motor skills, especially if your kiddo is using tweezers or tongs to place the cotton balls on the paper. Holding cotton swabs is also good for those fine motor skills, and all of this helps with hand-eye coordination. Beyond that, using alternative painting tools really gets those cognitive skills fired up…one of the benefits of thinking outside the box!

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Disclaimer: This one is done with homemade paint, so I only had one not-super-bright color. If you make your own paint or use store-bought, it might be fun to have a variety of colors to make black or gray clouds, different colored raindrops, and rainbows!

Splat Clouds

Supplies Needed: 

Stockings, tights, old socks, whatever. (I used old pantyhose I found at a thrift store.)

Old play dough , sand, birdseed.

Washable Paint.

How To:

Fill the foot of the stocking or whatever you’re using so it makes a cloud-like shape. Tie off the top, leaving a small handle.

Dip in paint and splat on the paper.

Once the paper is covered in clouds, you can add some rain drops or just leave it as a cloudy day.

 

Active Reading Activity:

Whenever you read the words “Tap Tap Boom Boom” have your child bang a drum, jump up and down, or do a yoga pose. This will help them build those listening skills while also keeping them engaged, especially kinesthetic learners!

 

Count The Booms:

As you read, see if you can count how many times you say the word “tap” or “boom.” You can use tools to help you keep count, like drawing lines on a paper or lining up cars or other materials.

Rainbow Fun:

My two-year-old really likes the page with the rainbow, so we have to add some rainbow fun here too! Besides painting and drawing rainbows, we used prisms and the shiny sides of old CD’s (remember those?!) to make rainbows shine from the windows.

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Toddler Activities

Bookworm Wednesdays: Books For Preschoolers

 

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Coming Soon!

Book Worm Wednesdays: Books (And Activities) For Preschoolers 

Like reading to your preschool-aged kiddo but don’t know what to read next? Found a book you both love (which is a rare and treasured treat as many kids books are as boring as the day is long) but want to take it further? Each Wednesday, I’ll post about a book that me and my two-year-old both love along with some simple extension activities that you can do at home to make the book come alive…or will at least buy you some time to do your own thing while your kiddos make clothespin people or build easy cardboard bee hives.

Have a book or activity suggestion? Lay it on me! I love me some children’s literature and with a budding bookworm on my hands, I am always on the search for a new fun book to read a million times or an activity to try. Post it in the comments to share or feel free to email me at babytribevt@gmail.com

See all you bookworms next Wednesday! xo, Meredith