Wednesday, January 30, 2013


 Music is such an important part of our lives. I enjoy singing so I've always hummed lullabies to Kz when putting him to sleep. I sing to him when he's grumpy or when we are feeling silly. It's one of those fool proof ways of grabbing his attention and making him smile. 

 As a preschool teacher, I've learned thousands of children's songs. Knowing so many songs really comes in handy. I can spontaneously break into song over just about anything. It's a gift. Or a curse. I'm not sure which.

Inspired by an amazing teacher I once worked with, I learned to play the guitar. Well, not really. I actually only learned 3 chords and it was like magic. These 3 chords have allowed me to play nearly every children's song I know. Now that I'm home with Kz, I do break out the guitar every once in a while but my repertoire of songs has severely declined. So, we use it for sensory exploration instead. 
 The best new trick Kz does is dance! I love seeing him bop up and down when he hears music. When I'm tired of hearing my own voice, I flip open the computer and let the pros take over. I have accumulated a pretty extensive playlist of children's music. Not all of it is actually intended for children. I think it is important to play all kinds of music. From the Beatles and Bob Marley to Raffi and Laurie Berkner, Kz is getting a lot of exposure to all kinds of tunes.
There is an insane amount of new children's music out there. It's not just "The Wheels on the Bus" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" anymore. Pandora has endless channels for children. Our current favorite is the Raffi station which today had us movin' and groovin' for nearly an hour.  We really like Laurie Berkner and her more modern take on children's music. There are also some artists that I've had the pleasure of knowing personally like Joanie Leeds and Paul Wolf. I met them while teaching in NYC and love their albums' city flare. Check them out!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First Pom Pom Play

One of my favorite bloggers, Plain Vanilla Mom, loves playing with Pom Poms. She puts them in an easily handled plastic container with maybe a few spoons or measuring cups and her son seems to have a ball. Check out this one of many Pom Pom posts by Plain Vanilla Mom. 

Seemed easy enough. 

The only Pom Poms I had are these crazy, sparkly ones with iridescent strings shooting out all around them. They are pretty awesome. And, oddly enough, while Kz loves putting any and all objects in his mouth, furry things often illicit a prompt look of disgust when he tastes them. I offered one large pom pom as a test and sure enough, Kz put it to his mouth and shuddered. Now that that was established, I poured the rest of the large Pom Poms (the package had some really tiny ones which would clearly not be appropriate for Kz) into a clear bin. He was interested enough at first...
 He touched the Pom Poms, took them out one by one, examined them, stirred them, and piled them in his lap.

 After a few minutes, they were all on the floor and Kz was happy since apparently, the Pom Poms were simply in the way of what he was really interested in; the container.
And so, the poor plastic container was sopping wet in a matter of moments, not a Pom Pom in sight.
Oh well. Maybe next time. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

No Frills Water Play

On a particularly boring afternoon, Kz was in desperate need of a fun activity. So, we decided to try a simple, no frills water play. A shallow Pyrex was heavy enough to not slide around too much and wide enough to allow Kz to feel the water with both hands. The transparent glass made the water nearly invisible until Kz splashed it around creating a ripple effect. 

Kz liked the feeling of the cool water on his hands so much that he eventually started putting the water on his feet. He dipped his hands in the water, touched his feet, wiggled his toes and of course, gave them a taste. When his toes started to turn pruney,  we added some bath toys so Kz could mouth and lick the water more comfortably (and admittedly, in a less gross way).

By the end of this activity, the towels were not nearly enough to keep the floor dry. Splashing became his favorite way to manipulate the water and both of us were completely soaked. Which was OK since it led us to our next thirty minute activity called "Changing Our Clothes."
 I have seen many posts about water play with added twists like using colored water, bubbles and toys. I have even read about glow water from Growing a Jeweled Rose. I like to start simple but it looks like we will have to try them all. Keep an eye out for some nuttier water play in later posts!

Nesting and Stacking Blocks

Kz received these great nesting and stacking blocks as a gift and he loves them. The hole on one side makes them easier to grip and the vibrant colors and patterns pique Kz's interest as soon as I bring them out. Kz is a bit young to actually stack or nest these blocks so I have been helping to create interesting structures for him to deconstruct and practice grabbing and reaching at different heights.
 As I began making towers for Kz to explore, he was a bit skeptical.
 The tallest tower rose high above his head and he looked at it cautiously. Eventually, he got excited and began flailing his arms...
 Uh oh! Again, Mommy!
We also use these blocks to play "Where is it?" We started by placing one toy beneath a large block and asked, "Where is it?" At first he was stumped, but then Kz began removing the block to discover the toy underneath. Now we use  the same small toy but place it under one of three larger blocks. This game is great for building memory and motor skills.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Temporary Play Spaces

It's been so fun watching Kz learn to sit up steadily on his own and teeter on his hands and knees in the beginning stages of crawling. Unfortunately, this means that the days of propping him up on the floor while I run to the bathroom or grab a snack from the kitchen are now over. In a bind, I grabbed this sturdy cardboard box and Kz had a brand new play space that kept him from getting into mischief around the house. 

Momentarily, at least.

We added a few toys after the excitement of being in a new space wore off.

I saved the box so that I might use it for a quick change of scenery when we are stuck inside the house. Although, I may have to invest in something a bit larger since a few more inches on Kz will have this box bursting at the seams and feeling like a jail instead of a new and exciting play space...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recycled Materials

When KZ started making his "I'm bored" noise while playing with his toys, I knew I had to spice it up. As a preschool teacher, I so often used recycled materials to create beautiful pieces of artwork or to add a little inspiration to the different learning centers in our classroom. So, I decided to scrounge around a bit and found some paper towel rolls, packing paper, cooking twine, and bubble wrap.
The cupcake tin acts as a natural sorting tray. Each item is displayed neatly in the cups allowing KZ to explore them one by one.
Rolling the packing paper in long strips made it easy to handle and fun to bang.
KZ explored the empty spaces of the tray, too.
The cooking twine was an addition I made because KZ has been fascinated with strings. None of my clothes with strings are safe. If he finds them, he will taste them. 
Exhibit A.

* KZ is turning 8 months and still puts most objects in his mouth. Make sure anything you offer is CLEAN and always be hyper vigilant when using materials that are not specifically designed for baby use. I had to pull away the packing paper after a while because it disintegrated too easily when he gave it a little nibble.

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