Posts Tagged ‘toys’

Imaginative Toddler Toys

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

At our home I do my best to keep our toys simple and open ended to help stimulate my kids’ imaginations. This means that I try (thanks a lot Grandma) to avoid toys with batteries or noises, and I try and avoid single-purpose toys. Here are some of the toys we love having in our home!

Fisher Price Little People – We love Fisher Price Little People for our kids. The nice chunky size makes them easy to hold, and it’s easy for our kids to imagine stories with them. We own a lot of the vintage sets, but no matter what era they’re from, Little People are a great toy to have.

Imaginative Toddler Toys

Fisher Price Loving Family – Similar concept as the Little People but a bit more “grown up” for older toddlers. We got a set of these for my daughter when she was almost two and she just loves them. The dolls often go places with us and she acts out stories with them that mimic our real life family.

Wooden Blocks – Blocks are a great addition to kids’ toys. Build towers, houses, fences, towns, anything their imaginations can dream up! They also can be used along with most of the other toys on this list.

Duplos – Duplos are perfect toddler toys. They can build anything they want, and it will hold together a bit better than blocks. Our set has a few people and train cars with it and my daughter loves building trains and acting out stories with the people. Our Duplos and Little People often exist in the same toddler imaginative world.

Play Kitchen/Food and Play Tools– Play kitchens and tool sets are fantastic because they allow toddlers to imagine themselves doing what they see mom and dad doing. My daughter loves to make supper in her play kitchen and sit me down to eat food with her.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.35.50 PMBaby dolls – In my opinion, both girls and boys do great with baby dolls. Especially if they have a younger sibling on the way. It gives them a great opportunity to take care of a baby like mama—including cloth diapering your doll! My 8-month-old son loves the baby dolls in our house just as much as his almost 3 year old sister.

Animal figures – I personally love Schleich animal figures, but there are many brands out there with cute animal figures for kids to play with. Our kids use the animals as an addition to most of the other toys sets listed above and tote them around on their own.

Hopefully these give you some good ideas for babies graduating into busy toddlerhood.

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and rabbits, and are making plans to move out west to start a homesteading adventure together!



How to Keep a Toddler Busy When You Homeschool

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

HOw to Keep a Toddler Busy While You HomeschoolMy son is 7 and home schooled; my daughter is 3 and loves to be involved. This is not always possible. Sometimes we really need her to be distracted while we focus on a subject and sometimes we invite her to work on the same things at her level.

Here are few things that interest her for more than a just few minutes:

Worksheets – while I believe toddlers and preschoolers should learn through play instead of strict academics, sometimes she wants a pencil and paper assignment like her brother. I like this preschool workbook for it’s prewriting skills.

Finger painting or ooblek – making a mess with paint or corn starch is tons of fun and a great way to keep her engaged. Her brother and I usually join in when we finish our work.

Building toys – We have a large bag of Mega Bloks that come out about once a week. These will keep her busy for hours.

Dress up dolls – paper dolls would work great, and these wooden magnetic dress up dolls are delightful!

Puzzles – this reversible puzzle wheel or this block puzzle are wonderful and work on her visual planning.

Picnic or tea party – these are favorite games for both children. A simple tablecloth or sheet or towel on the floor and a basket of play food or a tea set are all that’s needed. My daughter invites her superhero friends and has a blast.

Spelling words – at least that’s what she calls this see and spell toy. She enjoys finding the right letters for each word.

Bath – yes, sometimes I let her have a bubble bath while we work in the next room. Obviously I keep her in sight at all times.

Cars – I have a tin of toy cars that comes out once a week. Most of them belonged to my brother and myself.

Chalkboard – we have a large chalkboard in our hallway. I’ll get out a bunch of colored chalk or a set of magnets and she’s good to go.

The biggest secret here isn’t the specific toys; it’s that these toys aren’t always available. I have a basket of toy sets and I let her choose picnic, cars, puzzles, or any other set from it when I need a few minutes with her brother. The rest of the time these toys are stored in the cupboard. The rest of the secret is being ready to switch plans if one isn’t working. Find which toys occupy your toddler or preschooler for long periods of time and stash them away for when you need them.

Shannon Smith is a homeschooling mother of two who enjoys crocheting and cold weather.

Diapering a Wiggly Toddler

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

IMG_1690Changing a toddler’s diaper can be challenging. They can be squirmy, kicky, touchy, and grabby. Keeping feet down, hands up, and bums holding still can be a heck of a challenge. This gets harder as they grow, however, because they will eventually become MOBILE.

Mobility is awesome. You get to watch your little one learn to crawl, roll, walk, and climb. It’s amazing watching them discover all these new talents. It’s not so amazing when you just want them to hold still so you can clean that poopy diaper. Gone were the days I could just say, “Snnnnnaaaaaaap!” in an ever-rising, silly voice and entertain my children as I snapped their diapers up while they giggled away.
With my oldest child (now potty trained), I used my Mommy Necklace as a distraction. I would hand him the necklace to entertain him a bit while I wiped. The novelty of that wears off, eventually, and then you have a bored child that just wants down. It’s funny to see mom react when you try to flip over while she’s wiping poop off your butt, after all!I learned to change it up. Sometimes I would hand them the teething or nursing necklace I had on, other times I would take in a random wooden (and easy to clean) toy. Car keys (albeit a dirty alternative) seem to work well from time to time, also.

My favorite discovery with my oldest was a game that taught him things at the same time. We would name body parts as he touched them (also while nursing… if he touched my mouth, I would say mouth) all throughout the day. It became a game at changing time. In an effort to keep hands away from his diaper area (because we do NOT need pinkeye again), I would ask him where his nose was. He would point to his nose, and I would make a big deal out of it. GOOD JOB!!!! Then I would keep naming parts. By the time he was 18 months old, he knew many more body parts than others his age. You can do this game with signs if you do ASL, too.

If your little one will play peek-a-boo with you, that might be a good time to try to get them to play. This will keep hands away from the mess while you clean.

My daughter is trickier. She’s been mobile since a much younger age than my oldest child, and she wasn’t at the point where she would be able to play the body part game with me. I’ve sung to her, handed her random things (she loves the NoseFrida!), given her the really tiny board books to look at, and talked to her about the decorations on the wall. Wall clings near a changing table can be an awesome thing!

For Peek-a-boo, I end up throwing a patterned cloth wipe over her eyes and the top part of her head, and then I start my change immediately. She will lose interest in the game after about two peeks, but then gets interested in the print on the wipe (or diaper cover if I grabbed one of those instead).

For this wiggle worm, what seems to work best is singing…. and only one song at that. I can only please her singing “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” from Disney’s Frozen. She is getting better at her signing, and has taken a keen interest in body parts lately, so I have a feeling the “body part game” or “show me a sign” game will be in our near future. She’s also really into animal noises, so we might be able to play a “what does this animal say” game soon.

And here I thought I would have a system down-pat when baby #2 started becoming mobile! Every baby is different, and every baby loves different things. Take what interests your baby the most and try to incorporate that (like singing a specific song, books, or making specific animal noises). If need be, keep a few different items near the changing table (if you use one) so you can give them something different each time.

Mobile babies are tricky, so if you find something that works for you, stick with it! What’s your secret to changing a wiggly toddler?

Christine Kangas is a mom of two trying to lead a greener life. She lives in the mid-western U.S. with her family and three cats.

Sunday Funday Giveaway: Dandelion Handcrafted Pretend Play Rattle

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Need to squeeze in some last minute holiday shopping for your wee one? Check out these adorable handcrafted pretend play rattles from Dandelion!

The Pirate and Queen shown above are just two of the available choices. These 5 1/2 inch rattles are crotchet with bamboo thread and stuffed with corn fibers. They are the perfect size and weight for small hands to hold, manipulate, and shake.

Unlike many toys that hold a baby’s interest for a short duration of development, your child’s enjoyment of this toy will grow with them! Dandelion designed these rattles to be a “grow with me toy” so once baby moves from sensorial exploration into more complex pretend play, he/she can welcome their rattle into a world of imaginative play! How cool is that?!?

Would you like to WIN a FREE Dandelion Handcrafted Pretend Play Rattle? Then be sure to enter this week’s giveaway below! Winner will be announced on Sunday, December 23, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and is asked to respond to email within 48 in order to claim their prize. Good luck everyone!!