Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Traveling Activities for Baby

On the 9th day of Christmas mommy gave to Carter,
some sensory bottles to play with while we travel.

Well, we are here! Okay, I guess here online could be anywhere...but we are home, in the good old US of A! Sorry for the little delay on posts. As you can imagine, over 24 hours of travel, alone, with a little one can wear you down a bit! But it is 3:00 am, I'm jet I figured this is a perfect time to blog!

Little Carter man did well on our 14 hour flight and the little, tiny, 2 hour flight! He slept in my arms, on and off the whole time. However, while he was awake, I needed some little activities to keep him interested. These activites needed to be small, light, quite and engaging. No one likes a crying baby on a plane...especially mama!

(Sorry, no pictures in action...another thing people don't like is someone taking pictures on a plane!)

His top 3 ...
  1. Ping pong balls.
  • Of course he played a variation of THESE with a drink cup or the barf-bag you find in seat in front of you.

  • He also gave it to Mommy. Then I gave it to Carter! (Very exciting)

  • You know he licked them and lost a few. But for .50 cents for 6, who cares!?
2. Clothes pins with little Santa faces on them. (Chinese Dollar Store)
  • I clipped them on the magaizines in the pouch in front of us and he would pull them off! He LOVED this! This is wonderful fine motor practice too!
3. Magazines in the pouch in front of us. (I'm not being lazy...he loved this! Did it for hours!)
  • He took them out, one by one. There is TONS of stuff in those pouches! Then I put them back in. He took them out, I put them back in. Super fun and working out those muscles!

This is seriously what we did for 14 hours from China to the US and again for 2 hours from Chicago to Houston. You are jealous, right?

We have a car ride to Dallas coming up and for this is what I made for some car ride fun:

I used this stuff:

-Water bottles and the water
-baby oil
-vegetable oil
-food coloring
-red and silver beads, birthday candles, plastic farm animals from Target, foam letters from CVS (put any colorful objects you can fit into a bottle)

to make these fun sensory bottles:

Lava Bottles:
The blue, yellow and red are the liquid sensory bottles. The mixture of water and baby oil (or any oil) will move like a lava lamp! Add fun objects to see how they move about in the water. Notice how the water and oil never fully mix. (Chemistry for Pre-School!)

I-Spy Bottle:
The white is rice with silver beads and foam letters. Shake this bottle up and see what you can find! Add little pictures of the family for some real fun!

**If baby can open bottles, fill the lid with hot glue and twist on. Done!
Safe Travels!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Snow People

On the eight day of Christmas my Daddy read to me:
Snowballs by Louis Ehlert
We started the morning by reading Snowballs. I highly recommend checking it out at your local library at some point during this winter. It has great big pictures and short print. You even have to turn the book sideways to see the entire snow family.
We then ended our day by making our own snow family out of canned biscuit dough. My kids still put everything in their mouth, but if your kids are past that, consider using shaving cream on a wax paper and trace circles with their little fingers to make a snow family.

Supplies Needed:
Canned Biscuits
Pretzel sticks
anything else they may like

Playing with the dough
Talking about the textures and tastes.
Eating a little too.
With a little help from Daddy too!
This was a great way to kill some time before dinner!
Ready for the oven!
It is funny to think they are learning by doing this, but really, anything that uses ALL the five senses is sure to be a hit.
Smell it... check
Taste it... check
Hear it... I hope not, but check
Touch it... CHECK
See it... check
Not to mention the quality reading time with Daddy, and the baking fun with mommy.

When we finished making our snow family, we baked them according to directions and enjoyed!
These snow people didn't melt!

(I was having lighting issues with the sun setting in our kitchen, so excuse the dark pictures.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Sneaky Math Activities

On the seventh day of Christmas my Grammy gave to me:
Fun ways to hide math games!
Don't tell the kids, but here a couple of ways to encourage eye-hand, small motor and math development during the Christmas holidays. It is also a great filler for those times when there hands need to be busy so that you can use your hands dong something else. :)

#1 The Old fashioned paper chains:

Offer strips of red, green, white construction paper cut 1" wide. Have the tape dispenser handy and have your child loop and tape the strips in AB order (red/green/red/green). Add a white one in the mix for ABC pattern, (red/green/white...) Then have him make up his own pattern. This activity will help develop all the skills listed above.

To make this even prettier with a little more interest, cut strips from assorted wrapping paper. Remember to add a foil paper in there somewhere for extra sparkle.

#2 Pony Bead Candy Canes:

Purchase packages of red, green and white pony beads and pipe cleaners from Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Michaels. pour them in a bowl. Cut the pipe cleaners in half and fold the end of the pipecleaner to keep the beads in place.

Encourage your child to pattern the beads to make a candy cane. When they are tired of making candy canes just ask them to create any ornament using the same supplies. You will be surprised at what they will create. I think we still have a peace sign (Brandon) from years past.

*When your child is making the candy canes, remember to remind them of the shepherd's staff and how they travelled from afar to see the baby Jesus.

#3 Popsicle stick stars:

Take several popsickle sticks, glue and sparkley jewels, confetti or glitter.

Have your child glue three sticks criss -cross to make a star. After they have dried, decorate them with confetti, jewels or glitter. They sky is the limit. You ask where is the math? Well how do three sticks make six points? Hmmmmmmm.

This is also a great way to tie in the bright, shiny Christmas star. Tell them that when we let our light shine through out the year, it will brighten our world and other's, as well.

Most of all, HAVE FUN!!!!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Rice Baby Jesus

On the sixth day of Christmas my mommy gave to me,
a brand new little baby. (I'm not pregnant!)

We started off by reading the Christmas Story in our little board book Bible. It is VERY Baby appropriate. Each Bible story is two pages long, maybe 10 sentences and very colorful!

Then we played a bit in his new Sand & Water Table! Thanks Grammy!
If you are still looking for Baby/Toddler gift ideas, I totally recommend getting one of these. These are great, AWESOME, amazing, and fine motor development galore!! Fill up both sides with all kinds of fun stuff; sand, water, oatmeal, bubbles or in this case...rice!

Then we made a little baby Jesus! This is a straight up steal from ELP. Who knows if we will make it back to the US for Carter to make one he gets one here! (And now, I'm crying, no joke...why did I have to type that!?)

Step 1: Fill the pantyhose or knee high stockings just a bit, then knot it. This makes the head.

Step 2: Fill the rest up with even more rice, then knot it! Makes the body!

This is how you hold the baby!

Step 4: Swaddle him up and draw a face!
Step 5: Give that baby some love! And Carter is loving the baby! Sweetest thing ever!!!

Teacher Tip:
Kiddos not only need to be nurtured but they need to learn how to nurture. It is such an important social and emotional skill! It is OKAY and wonderful for little boys to love on a baby doll!! He will be a great Daddy someday!

12 Days of Learning: Reindeer Aprons

On the fifth day of Christmas, Rudolph gave to me,
a reindeer apron to match the reindeer painting.

Looking for a fun activity and a gift a loved one will cherish and use year after year? This is a great spin off the reindeer hand and foot painting Suz did! I would say, great for kiddos old enough to wear the apron and help baking some Christmas goodies!

Well, go to you local Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Michaels, etc. Sarah, not too sure where you would go for this in China. I think it is time to move home :) Purchase white aprons. They are VERY inexpensive and can be full or just half aprons.

With fabric paint, paint your child's hands brown and have them place them side by side.

Then connect the handprints with a brown paint pen in the shape of a triangle. If they are old enough...let them do it! It may be crooked or wobbly but all the more special!

Add two large googly eyes or paint them on

and a big fluffy pom pom for the nose.

A mom made these for our Breakfast with Santa last year and they were adorable. I don't have one of my own at home. Hint hint! But wearing these while baking Santa's cookies will make it extra special!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Reindeer Games

On the forth day of Christmas Santa left for me:
Cute little reindeer feet!!
The Wild Christmas Reindeer
This is a great book to read to kids that will sit and listen!!

I had a few friends over for a painting play group! It was a hit! The kids played, the mommies painted hands and feet, and everyone was happy!
Supplies Needed:
Dark Brown Paint ( I used acrylic)
Lighter Brown Paint
Red pom poms
Wiggle eyes
Card stock

Paint your child's foot one shade of brown. Dark brown foot, light antlers, or light brown foot with dark antlers... all the same cuteness! Doesn't matter.
 Paint each hand and place on the top of the foot by the toes!

 Add eyes and a nose! Nose can be at the bottom or up top! Still sooo cute!
Top it off with a bow, and it is ready to go!
When painting with an infant, use only feet! Hands are much to messy! Foot for the face, and two little feet up top!
Add Girly google eyes for the ladies!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Snowmen ornaments (Handprint ornaments)

On the third day of Christmas my Grandkids gave to me,
A handprint ornament for our lovely tree!

These Christmas ornaments are extra special made with your child's handprints are on them. GUARANTEE...anyone who receives a present with your child's handprint on it will proudly display it year after year (especially grandparents and other family members. Remember to make one for your tree too!)

Step 1: Paint your child's hand with white acrylic paint

Step 2: Lay the ornament in child's open hand and have them
gently close their fingers around the ball. Remove the ornament
and you have 5 little snowmen on a bed of snow.

Step 3: After it has dried, add the details with paint pens or sharpie markers.

Step 4: Make it pretty by tying a pretty bow on the top and you are done!

A nice tradition would be to have a handprint ornament or a photo ornament of each year as your child grows up. Then you can pass them down to your child when they leave. As for my grown children, NO, you don't get them, not yet. You need to come over and see your ornaments. Maybe you can have them next year. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Snowman Soup

On the second day of Christmas, Carter is share-ing...
some Snowman Soup for friends in our building.

We are making some fun little Christmas gifts to share with some of the people who live in our building. This includes friends, front desk, house keeping, room service (sad, we know them too well), and John's (my husband's) co-workers because, yes, we all live together. Smile!

There are different ways to make Snowman Soup (aka: Hot Chocolate).

However, I have no way to get most ingredients. But, I do have this stuff, for some SUPER SIMPLE fun:
That is see some packets of hot cocoa. :)

I used:
  • Cocoa Packets
  • Hershey kisses
  • Pocky Sticks (Chocolate dipped cookie sticks)
  • Ribbon
  • Jars (Cost $1!!) Check your Dollar Store, Hobby Lobby and even CVS!
1. I simply alternated the Hot Cocoa, topped with kisses, tied up in a ribbon!
2. The FINAL touch will come when I print these Snowman Soup Poems and mat them with construction paper!

Teaching Tip:
Get your kiddos involved! This is a fun way to teach measuring! Even if you do it the "Sarah-way" they are doing math. Some of the very first skills taught in Pre-K and Kinder are patterning. This is also WONDERFUL pre-reading skills.
Example Lesson:
Timmy, a pattern is something that over and over again in the same order. We are going to make a pattern with the Hot Cocoa. Vanilla, Mocha, Vanilla, Mocha, Vanilla....What do you think comes next? Mocha? You got it! You know patterns! Can you pour the packets in the jar and keep the pattern going? The Vanilla packets start with the letter V and we know vanilla is white (keep the box up for reference) and the Mocha starts with the letter M and is more brown (do the same).

We are going to leave these anonymously on the door steps as a little surprise to spread Christmas Cheer! Who doesn't LOVE coming home to a little treat waiting for you!

Talk about the act of selfless giving. Why is it harder to give without acknowledgement? Explain that God wants us to give selflessly and read:
John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave us his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

12 Days of Learning: Advent

On the first day of Christmas my mommy gave to me:
Yummy Advent Cookies!

Tonight is the second Sunday of Advent. Celebrating Advent with your children can be flexible to meet the needs of your family. You can add bible versus, carols, discussions, whatever works for your family. There is a mom in my multiple group that has a great tradition for Advent. The first Sunday of Advent she gives her children a new Christmas ornament in celebration of the season. Each ornament is specific to what that child likes! I am thinking I will steal this idea!

Advent is Latin for, "the coming", waiting in anticipation leading up to Jesus' birthday!

Tonight we lit our Advent candles on our Advent candle holder Auntie Sarah sent us from Norway. (Sarah and John lived in Norway before they lived in China... did you know they are world travelers dwellers?)

Here is a little break down for you:
First Sunday of advent : Hope
light one purple candle to symbolize Hope
Read Isaiah 60:2-3
Extinguish the flame

Second Sunday : Peace
Light two purple candles - Hope and Peace
Read Mark 1:4
Extinguish the flames

Third Sunday : Joy
Light two purple candles (Hope and Peace)
and one rose to symbolize Joy
Read Isaiah 35:10
Extinguish the flames

Fourth Sunday: Love
light all four candles - Hope, Peace, Joy and Love
Read Isaiah 9:6-7
Extinguish the flames

Christmas Eve
After Sunset...
Light all four candles and add the fifth white candle
(the light of Christ)
Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20
Keep the candles lit a bit longer, or safely
throughout the evening.

And for dessert we made our own Advent candle! Of course everything with my kids revolves around food. They just love to put everything in their mouth still.

Supplies Needed:
Icing in a squeeze tube,(red or yellow)
Rolled Wafer Cookies
Fudge Stripped Cookies
Not pictured Fudge Stripped Cookies
First Step:
Set out the cookies. Mine are red because that is all they are selling right now at HEB.
Watch out for the little hands.
Next: Cut the rolled wafer cookies into thirds. And 'anchor' them into the hole with icing.

I did red icing to match the cookies.
And Last: Pipe more icing around the base of the candle and add a flame!
And Enjoy (Note to self: Next time I will do this before bath. Ugh, first time mommy mistakes.)

Happy Advent!

You are cordially invited: The 12 Days of Learning

Who's the Boss at Grandma's House?

OK, now that I am an official Grammy of three adorable little grandsons, I feel that I can be an expert on this subject. hahaha! (Is anyone ever worthy of the title "expert"?) This is our first holiday season where all the boys will be here and participating in the celebrations so I am VERY new at this role.

When you and your children go to visit grandparents or other relatives, who will make the rules and do the disciplining? Whose rules apply - yours or Grandma's?

Most of the time it makes sense for the house rules to apply - rules of the house you're visiting. You can decide with your children that some behavior may be all right at Grandma's but not all right when they get home again. For example, grandparents may permit children to stay up later than is allowed at home or maybe have two helpings of dessert.

This doesn't mean that grandparents should undercut parent's authority. Some behavior is not acceptable no matter where it takes place. For, example, running wild, jumping on furniture, destroying the house, is a no-no. Period.

As parents, you are the protectors of your children, even when it means your wishes go against grandparents' or other relatives' wishes. Sometimes you must insist on your own rules for your kids' sakes.

Talk to your parents, or other relatives before you arrive and let them know what your ground rules are and ask them to help you make the trip more pleasant by supporting your guidelines.
Fellow Grandparents, please follow the parents' lead.

It will be less confusing for your children and make the holidays more pleasant for all.

Have fun and make happy memories.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Fun Little Quote

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What ifChristmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

Even the Grinch figured it out! :)

Thanks Denise for sharing this with me!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Wipe Boxes

I have an over abundance of baby wipe boxes. If you are looking for ideas on what to do with them, check out this great site. She has 10 awesome ideas!
I took idea number 2, and changed it up to fit our needs!

Supplies Needed:
Baby Wipe Box (I used Huggies because it has the rubber gripers)
A roll of ribbon

I took the ribbon off the roll and shoved it in the box. And it was kid approved! (Now, I won't find hundreds of clean wipes on the floor.... I hope.)
Holiday ribbon is half off everywhere right now... and it's not like they are ruining it, so I can reuse it. Plus it looks festive!
Sarah said she did this too, but shoved a scarf in the box ... since being in China, there is no half off sale at Hobby Lobby for her!!

Pull away! Now if you could only teach the twins to run the vacuum cleaner in the picture, we would be set!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Independent Play Games (for babies!)

Let's be honest...there are days when you can't get everything done during naps. These days, you either leave your house messy, run errands with wet hair or try to do to two things at once (entertain baby and put your make up on).

Well, for these moments, try to use a few portable, meaningful, activities to engage baby to play independently while you finish up with those extra 5 minutes. We have a few that are mostly used in the bathroom and kitchen. :) Yes, they are babies (mine is 10 months) but they can do it! They will gain so much more from this, versus zoning into the tv, I promise!!!

Here are a few of Carter's current On-The-Go Independent play games:

1. Ping-Pong In the box. (Much like Suzie's Pumpkin Basketball)

A box
Several ping pong balls.

Teaching Tips:
1. First, you play with your child. Put the ping pong balls in, take them out. Play!! Talk while you play. "Put the ball in the box." "Take it out." "1, 2, 3 in the box!" etc.
2. Next, encourage them to play with out you!
3. Finally, they have it down! Bring out the old Box of Ping Pong in the kitchen! See how they do!
It won't be perfect! ;)
But this is hard work for those little guys!
Dumping them out.
Picking them up!
Back in they go!

2. Reach Up!

Suction cupped bath toys
More fun toys to hang onto the bath toys.

How to play:
1. Place the bath toys on a mirror, fridge, or window. (Place them at a height that is a bit of a challenge for baby to get to, but low enough it is possible!)
2. Hang some really cool objects from them!
3. Teach them to play by playing with them.
4. Encourage them to play on their own!

If I could just get a little bit higher.

Oh yeah!

Check out that reach!

(I'm usually doing my mascara right behind him.)

Got it!

3. In The Bucket

A few really cool objects
A bucket/box

How to Play:
Okay, so this is ALOT like the ping pong game and Suzie's pumpkin game...but he's really into this right now! Ha ha! Put it in, take it out, chew it...he loves it!

Blue, in the bucket!

Orange, in the bucket!

Blue out of the bucket.

Break time!

What is so great about these game is that not only are they engaging for baby but they are great for MOMMY! Quick to bring anywhere and quick to clean up! Score!

What fun games is your little one into at the moment?


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