Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weekly Kid's Co-op #3

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

It's time for the Weekly Kid's Co-op! I've chosen a few favorites from last week and I hope you'll pop on over and check them out.

Lemon Playdough Made in the Kitchen Aid - I've spent precious time stirring playdough as it cooks and this simple recipe from Train Up a Child has the Kitchen Aid doing all the work for you! Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

25 Essential Toys for Babies - Looking for a gift or just some stimulating toys for your baby? Stop by Mums Make Lists for this comprehensive guide on some of the best toys for babies.

Cardboard Building Boards - I love ideas like this. Tutus and Tea Parties cut slits in cardboard pieces to create building boards. I bet if you try this, your child will play with it longer than any of their store-bought toys.

And now to the Linky. Add your activities, recipes and all around kid-friendly ideas. Don't forget to stop by and get inspired from some of the other submissions, too!

Fun with Food - Back to Basics #1

A parent's life is a complicated one. There's the never ending list of things to remember and an even longer list of things to get done. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, your child's schedule or family needs change and you've got to find your way all over again. When we get caught up in the daily grind, its easy to overlook some of the best (and easiest) teachable moments.

I know when I see all of the amazing activities and ideas from fellow bloggers about what to do with young children, I get a bit overwhelmed. I wish I could do all these incredible things. While I enjoy getting creative and going the extra mile every once in a while, I simply don't have the energy for it everyday. When I feel like throwing my hands up, I remind myself that the richest play and learning experiences for children are the ones that provide opportunities for experimentation, exploration, curiosity, problem solving, social interaction, physical development...and all of these things can be found in the simple tasks we set out to do each day.

Our new Back to Basics series is a reminder to parents that you don't need fancy toys or a degree in education to provide teachable moments for your child. You do need to slow down, ask questions, and provide time and space for your child to gain knowledge, build confidence and draw conclusions about their environment.

Food provides an all around sensory experience for children. During mealtime, they see new shapes and colors, feel different textures, hear new sounds and of course, taste new flavors.

Kz is old enough to be eating a wide array of solid foods. We are thoughtful about the taste and texture of the foods we offer and he is pretty accepting of all things edible (and not). On this particular day, Kz was eating Pastina with chicken broth. He LOVED the tiny stars. He kicked his feet and wiggled with excitement with every spoonful. On any other day, I might have hurried to clean up and move onto something else but seeing him so interested in the food prompted me to slow down, and take some time to let him play and learn.

 The first thing he went for was the spoon. Kz likes to feed himself and while we provide plenty of cut up finger foods for him to eat, the spoon is his favorite tool. He chews it, bangs it, and well, does everything but eat with it. Once he asks for the spoon, it's safe to assume that his belly is full and he's ready to play.

The Pastina are very tiny but Kz was determined to grab some of them. He worked hard to pinch them between his thumb and forefinger. He keenly went for the clumps of Pastina that were a bit larger and was psyched when the reward was a mouthful of yummy starts. Every so often, he was able to pick up a single one, but the sticky stars became cheek decorations when he missed his mouth.

Taking a closer look.

Learning about the nature of things that are small and sticky. 

 Kz pushed the stars around with his spoon, squished them between his fingers, rubbed them all around the tray and attempted to taste every last one. The result was a happy (and messy) baby who got some great fine motor practice and tons of sensory fun!

Try adding water or a number of foods in separate compartments on the tray for mixing. I try as best I can to have Kz play with leftovers from mealtime or food that can no longer be saved. You may opt to cook up a little something specifically for play like Jello, jelly or pudding. All three are perfect for squishy, edible, sensory play.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Grab and Go

A cruising baby is ALWAYS on the move and Kz is no exception. He sometimes ventures out to conquer new terrain but his most favorite route is the cruiser-friendly perimeter of his play space. He travels from one end of the couch to the other, continues to the ottoman (which is currently moved to block passage out of the living space) and from there he reaches for the armchair before slowly lowering himself to the ground and crawling back to the start.

Not much else provides Kz with such joy, except... the remote control.

Of all the fun things we do, and all the fun toys he has, Kz is most excited when the remote control is in sight. He screeches with glee and makes his way towards it, hoping that we've carelessly left it close enough to the edge of the couch for him to grab.

One rainy afternoon, we decided to combine Kz's two loves. We took his beloved remote control and  placed it on a reachable surface not too far away. He excitedly cruised his way over to retrieve it.

Got it!

Once he grabbed it, he held it up proudly for us to see. We played again, and Kz watched closely as I placed the remote control on the ottoman nearby. He immediately made his way over, giggling as he went. 
There it is, I see it! 

We kept the game going, making a point to place the remote control on opposite sides of the room and hiding it a bit to make it more challenging for Kz. This activity helped to develop gross motor muscle coordination, motor planning and problem solving skills. 
Try this at home with any of your child's favorite toys!


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weekly Kid's Co-op #2

The Weekly Kids Co-Op
 Since hosting the Kid's Co-op is still new, I have been going through the link list all week, trying to figure out which submissions to highlight. This seemingly simple task has sparked some questions about my philosophy as a mother and former teacher, and who I want to be as a blogger. What do I want my readers to gain from the posts I write? I thought long and hard about this, but then...

...I got a migraine ( for which I blame the long day spent with a teething ten month old). So, instead, I decided to accept these uncertainties as part of the fun. I'm not quite sure where this blogging adventure will take me, but I am certain that it will make me a better mother, and consequently, a better me. So, in no particular order, here are just a few submissions that I was drawn to last week. Thanks for sharing your incredible ideas!
Invitation to play with sea glass and picture frame

I had the opportunity to visit Reggio Emilia, Italy and have been obsessed with the philosophy ever since. Reggio-inspired activities involving loose parts and natural materials like this one from
My Nearest and Dearest are sure to consistently get my attention.

Many of the activities and ideas presented in the Weekly Kid's Co-op are fabulous for preschool-aged children. We aren't quite there yet so I love looking for submissions that work for babies and pre-toddlers like Kz. This one, from House of Burke, brings a creative component to sensory play.

Ninjas vs monster peg dollsThis one from Making Boys Men is really adorable. I like the idea of making small wooden peg dolls for Kz according to his interests. Right now, he would just eat them, but I think this is an activity I'll keep in my back pocket for a few months from now.

Here's the link for this week...Can't wait to see all your awesome ideas!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Metal Band

One day, I brought out a sensory bin for Kz to play with. It was colorful and filled with different textures. I included some metal measuring cups for him to scoop the materials. When I placed the bin in front of him, he bypassed all the materials and went straight for the shiny measuring cup. He banged it on the hard floor a few times, looked up, and gave me his toothy, scrunchy-nosed smile.

Ok, Ok. You win. Let's play metal band.

I brought out the pots and pans and turned them upside down on the floor. The large pots made a deep sound when he hit them with the measuring cup. The lids sounded more like bells or cymbals. 

He tried banging the pots with his hands, but it just didn't sound as good. Frustrated, he picked up the lid to see what the problem was. He was greeted by a friendly baby who cheered him up.

Pots can be stepping stones, too.

 This is always a great go-to activity for Kz. It's one handed down from generation to generation and it never gets old. Except maybe for your ears.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Weekly Kids Co-op #1

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

 We are proud to be joining a group of talented bloggers in hosting the Weekly Kid's Co-op link up. This is a place for us to share fun and creative activities for kids. Each week, Kz and Me will be featuring some of the awesome activities submitted by YOU!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spaghetti Sensory Play: Because We Wanted to Try It Too

Sensory Spaghetti Play is an idea that has become a classic among kid activity bloggers. But, just because it's been done (and done, and done) doesn't mean we can't do it, too...Right? I briefly considered not even including this activity in the blog, but the truth is, it's a kid bloggers right of passage and, was really fun! 

First, I have to say that I am not in the habit of using food for play. While it is a good solution for babies who still put things in their mouths, I think it can be rather wasteful. I also don't want Kz eating all of the artificial coloring that is in a lot of the food-based sensory play. "Why don't you just make it plain" you ask? Because that would be so BORING! So, I decided that providing food-based play every so often would be ok... Starting with these slimy, stringy, slippery strands of spaghetti!

In the past, when I presented fun materials for Kz to play with, they were received with a big smile. One look at this colorful, spaghetti-filled bin and he let out a shriek of pure glee. He immediately knew that this was going to be awesome and he got straight to work...

Squishing it, 

 talking to it,

dumping it,

And of course...

The spaghetti was room temperature but felt cool to the touch. Kz loved the way it felt on his legs and wiggled the strands between his toes. 

He surprised me by listening when I asked him not to eat the spaghetti. I let him nibble here and there but I really wanted him to experience it with his hands. Of course, every once in a while I would turn around and inevitably see this...

We loved this activity (I say "we" because it really felt good to pick up a fistful of spaghetti and mush it around in my hands.. try it!). It was so easy to make, too. Just cook the spaghetti, drain, separate into groups and add food coloring. One or two drops is plenty. I also added a bit of oil to make it extra slimy. I would love to do this more often without the guilt of using food for play. to do some synthetic spaghetti research!

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