Archive for August, 2010

Round and Round the Garden

Singing is so important for children. It helps enrich your child’s language development, gives them comfort, and connects you both together.  Songs can teach your child of new things such as animals, and numbers. Even as babies they love the rhymes and rhythm.

Here is a fun song to sign with your child, babies especially love this song.

Round and Round the Garden

Round and round the garden (draw circle on child’s tummy)

Goes the teddy bear.

One step, two steps… (walk your fingers up his chest or arm)

Tickle him under there! (tickle under his chin or under the arm)

Benefits: Shape, connects you with your child, rhymes, rhythms, and language development

This song is great for all ages

Clay Play

Children between two and three love to play with things they can squeeze, pound, break apart and put back together.

Here’s a recipe to make your own play dough that you probably already have right in the kitchen.

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • a few drops of food coloring (optional)

1. Mix the flour, salt, and water. If necessary, add more flour until mixture has a doughy, but not sticky, consistency. Add food coloring for vibrancy. You can also let your child help pour everything together. This is a great way to learn numbers, measuring, and how mixing things you can create something new. Talk about it together.

This dough lasts for weeks if you store it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or covered jar. Or they can make “things” and leave them out to dry and harden. Small children may put the dough in their mouths. It won’t taste good, but it also won’t hurt them. You can use a cookie sheet for a working place or the kitchen table. Dust his hands with a little flour, so the dough doesn’t stick to his hands. S/he may just want to pound it, or he may want to try using the following things:

  • rolling-pin
  • cookie cutter
  • dull knives, forks and spoons
  • craft Popsicle sticks

Benefits: Colors, shapes, numbers, measuring, promotes creativity, encourages generosity (make gifts), fine motor skills

This activity is best for children 2+.Please also note: I first made play dough for my son at less than 18 months. Use your judgment on your child’s abilities. 🙂

Tip: Let your child take the lead

When doing anything with your child, don’t expect them to perfectly grasp what you are doing. This is especially true for babies-preschool aged children. They understand a large concept, but they also have their own ideas even from a young age. Don’t worry if your child does something completely different from what you have set up. In fact, be proud. They have the confidence to come up with an idea and follow through with it. With you behind them, it makes them feel empowered. Unless your child is putting himself or others in danger, let him do what he wants with the activity.

For example, the clothespins game I posted, my son has played both games I have mentioned. However, the other day when I brought it out he instead put some of his small toys inside and gave them a “bath.” I thought this was fantastic! I would have never even thought of that. Even doing things like this, with their own ideas (something you or I would have never thought of) teaches them new things. It’s also a chance for them to show off and practice the skills they already have.

Benefits: We talked about bathing, numbers (how many items were in the bath), and body parts, in a fun and playful way. Things I said were “Do you think his head needs to be washed?” He would wash his head. “His foot looks so dirty.” Give your child a chance to talk too.

Laugh, play and learn away!

Water Drop Activity

Here is another fun activity you can do with your child. It incorporates a fun weather theme. All you need is:

  • a piece of wax paper
  • water in a cup or container
  • straws
  • flat surface
  • eye dropper (optional)
  • tape (optional)
  • food coloring (optional)

To do the activity take a piece of your wax paper, you can cut it in half and tape it to make it longer, if desired and set it on the table. Show your child how to  drop some water with an eye-dropper or with your fingers. If you want, you can drop a small amount of food coloring in your drop to give it some color. (Blue to make it look like water, perhaps?) Use your straws to blow the water drop across the wax paper. As your child gets older and/or if you have more than one child you can set up a race. The fun thing about this is the water drop will split apart, so you can talk about how many it split into, or try to make 3 drops into one. If your child is younger, you may have to help guide them on how to use the straw as to not suck any in. If they do, it won’t harm them. Also, talk and ask questions about how they think the water moves.

My son likes dropping the water on the paper the best. What did your child enjoy?

Benefits: Teaches weather (wind and water), numbers, simple mathematics, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and colors.

This activity is great for all ages. Use your judgment on your child’s abilities. 🙂

Clothespins Fun

This is a very simple thing to do with your child and there are many ways you can adapt it to your child’s age. All you need is a loaf pan and clothespins, any number will do, even if it’s only one you can still have fun. If you don’t have a loaf pan you can use any object that has a good sized opening.

*Please note these are best used with old-fashioned clothespins as not to pinch your child. Monitor your child if using the spring type.

Activity Idea Number One:

Line the clothespins up on the loaf pan, if your child can do this let him/her. Show him/her how to take it off and drop them into pan. The sound alone is a lot of fun. Line them back up and start again. Count as you drop.

Activity Idea Number Two:

Have your child stand in front on the container you are using. Hold the clothespin at about chest level and drop the clothespin so it lands inside. As your child gets older clothespins can be used to drop in a container with smaller openings. This game could be adapted to a clothespin toss.

Benefits: Eye-hand coordination, counting, sorting, and fine motor skills.

This activity is best for toddlers, around 1.5+. Use your judgment on your child’s abilities. 🙂

Five Little Monkeys

Singing is so important for children. It helps enrich your child’s language development.  Songs can teach your child of new things such as animals, and numbers. Even as babies they love the rhymes and rhythm. Plus, they are a good way to get your kids up and moving.

Here is a fun song I like to sing with my son.

Five Little Monkeys

Five little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

Four little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

Three little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

Two little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

One little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

No more monkey’s swinging in the tree!

Author: Unknown

This song is great with hand motions as well. Make one hand with all 5 fingers be your monkeys. Your other hand is Mr. Alligator who snaps the monkey right out of the tree. Even better, you can get super creative and make felt puppets to use to sing along. My son and I sing it as .. “and chomp” for the last line. It’s how I was taught and it stuck. Your version doesn’t need to be perfect, either. Whatever works best for your home.

Benefits: It teaches words, numbers, animals, rhythm and rhymes.

This song is great for all ages.

I hope you and your child enjoy this fun song!

Cornmeal Sandbox

You can have a small sandpile in your home simply by putting cornmeal, oatmeal or uncooked cereals into a big metal baking pan. If you’d like you can also put a cookie sheet underneath the pan. If your child puts any in his or her mouth, it won’t hurt him/her any. Put the pan on the kitchen table, on newspapers on the floor, or on the back steps. You know your home best. It’s super easy to vacuum up afterward, too. Here are some good things  to play with in an oatmeal or cornmeal “sandpile.”

  • funnel
  • muffin tin
  • sieve
  • small toy cars and trucks
  • juice cans with smooth edges
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • empty containers such as yogurt cups or cottage cheese cartons

My 22 month old son in our oat sandbox

I like to keep the “play oats” in its own marked container.

Benefits: This is a great project for sensory play. My son and I like to draw in the oatmeal with our fingers as well, things like shapes, numbers, and silly looking animals.

My son especially likes pouring the oatmeal over his cars. What did your child like best?

In my opinion this activity is best for approx ages 1.5+. Use your own judgment on your child’s ability 🙂