Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Outdoor splashing but not in the pool!

One of the things I've noticed since becoming a parent is how many children's toys are plastic.  During Bean's first year, I tried to buy toys that were made of natural materials such as wood or cloth, but there are very few of them for older children.  Plus, my daughter LOVES duplo!

Since Bean enjoys the sand box at the park as well as the splash pad, we decided that the perfect outdoor toy for her would be a hand me down water table for both sand and water.   So far, we've only used it for water, because it's been very hot and humid lately.  I'm sure I'll let her have sand soon:)

We put her toy cars in there since there are two ramps, old measuring cups and tupperware and yoghurt containers that I cut holes out of the lids.

It's been a hit so far and hopefully continues to be!  What are your toddler's favourite water or sand toys?  Have you made any at home?

Monday, 22 June 2015

Freezer bag art

I saw this mess free and fun art activity on a television show last year and I had been waiting patiently until my daughter was old enough to try it out.  I know it's important for children to get messy and use all their senses to play and discover the world around them, but sometimes you just want a quick and fun activity that requires little clean up or preparation.  You probably have all of these items at home already.  You'll need:


  • plastic freezer bag
  • thick paper cut to fit into the freezer bag
  • paint- as many colours as you'd like
  • glitter (optional)
  • masking tape
This activity is basically finger painting without actually touching the paint.  You move the paint around while it is inside the plastic bag.  Adding several colours of paint makes it interesting to move around and mix together.  Of course adding glitter paint to it adds a little something extra :).

I taped the bag to the floor and put the paper and squirted paint onto the paper then sealed it shut.  Next my daughter pressed down on it, poked it and moved the paint around, creating an interesting piece of art.  It's a quick activity that you'll have fun trying out with your little one! 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Spring time -outdoor activities

It has been so warm and sunny lately, we have been spending a lot of time outdoors with Bean.  We are lucky to have lots of local parks near us and it's probably my daughter's favourite way to spend the morning or afternoon, or even an entire day if she had her way!  Since we cannot spend all day at the park, she is still quite happy playing in her backyard.  I'm surprised at how little she needs to be entertained for (sometimes) hours.  Here are some of her current favourites:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • A wagon
  • Plastic baseball bat and ball
  • Her toddler sized chair (too cute!)
  • Rake and shovel

  • What are some of your toddler's favourite outdoor activities/toys?  What is their favourite thing to do at the park?  Bean LOVES the swings and sandbox!

    Thursday, 7 May 2015

    Book Review- Duck! Rabbit!

    This is a hilarious book that my daughter finds quite enjoyable and one which I laughed out loud at the first time I read to her.  This book was a Christmas gift from friends and Bean has been enjoying it ever since.  It has an illustration of an animal that could be a duck or a rabbit and the book is about the ongoing discussion about which one it truly is.  It is really cute and in case you're wondering, my daughter definitely thinks it's a rabbit.  Have any of you read it?  What do you think it is, a rabbit or a duck? ;)

    Wednesday, 8 April 2015

    Playing with goop


    To explore with senses using goop


    • corn starch
    • food colouring (optional)
    • 1/4 cup measuring cup
    • 1 teaspoon
    My daughter and I played with goop yesterday.  I loved this messy activity as a child and I hoped that my daughter would too when we made the sticky, wet and crumbly mixture.  I started out with measuring 1/4 cup of cornstarch and then added one teaspoon of water at a time along with drops of food colouring to make sure it would not get too runny too quickly.  Although hesitant to touch
    it first, after Bean saw that I got my hands dirty, she was more than happy to join me.  She was excited and intrigued by it.  She spent about 20 minutes just exploring it with her hands and at one point even put it in her mouth.  She was not impressed with the taste of goop, but I guess she had to try!  

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015

    Cotton balls and Q-tips


    To further develop fine motor and sorting skills for my toddler

    • cotton balls
    • Q-tips
    • Two containers (one for the cotton balls and one for the Q-tips)
    Like many toddlers, my daughter likes to play and explore objects that are not necessarily toys.  A couple of weeks ago, she found the Q-tip holder in our bathroom and dumped out all of the Q-tips.  I watched what she did with them.  Instead of just dumping them and moving on to the next activity, she began picking up the Q-tips. One by one, she put them back into the container, making sure each one was flat and fit back into the holder correctly.  She managed to put them all back and then proceeded to dump them back out and do it all over again.  She must have spent a good half an hour doing this. It was amazing to me that she was so focused on this and was practising attention regulation despite the distractions near by.

    She also gave me inspiration for this post.  This activity could be used to develop fine motor skills, sensory exploration as well as sorting.  I set out the cotton balls, Q-tips and put containers for each of them so she had separate containers if she wanted to sort.

    Here is what I used:

    What are your toddler's favourite bathroom accessories?

    Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    Food Colouring Magic


    To give my daughter the opportunity to practise learning the names of colours in a fun way


    • food colouring
    • milk 
    • dish soap
    • Q-tips
    This activity is actually a science activity for children slightly older than my daughter.    I decided I would try it with my daughter anyway since we had some milk left over that she did not finish this morning.  Thanks to my cousin for suggesting this activity a couple of months ago:).

    I poured the milk in a clear bowl and added drops of food colouring.  You can easily add counting as a skill to this activity by having your toddler count the drops.  Bean decided which colours we would use by naming them.  I may mix the colours together next time so she has more than four to choose from.  Next we dipped a Q-tip into the dish soap and swirled it around.  You can try it and see for yourself what happens next ;).

    Monday, 16 March 2015

    Book Review- From Head to Toe

    From Head to Toe by Eric Carle is a fantastic book for children learning their body parts as well as names of animals.  This book is a fun teaching tool and quite interactive.  It's another one of Bean's favourites.  It's very cute to see her flip through the pages by herself and carry out the actions!

    Have you come across any good children's books for teaching your child his/her body parts?

    Tuesday, 10 March 2015

    Tissue Boxes & Scarves

    This activity is one I did with my daughter when she was younger, when any random household object would turn into a simple toy.   You will need a long canister or tissue box and some scarves.  If using a long canister cut out a hole the size of a dime on the lid so the scarf can be pulled out easily. You may want to pull out a tiny bit of the scarf just so your baby has something to hold on to, to begin pulling.

    Your child may put the scarf back into the container.  Try tying two scarves together for even more fun!

    Here are some photos of ones I made:

    Wednesday, 4 March 2015

    Literacy & Puppets


    To promote literacy through puppet play


    Various hand and finger puppets

    Children are like sponges, they absorb everything in their environment.  Creating an environment in which literacy can be practiced is important and easily done.  Having books(board books, paperbacks and hardcover) available and within reach in all the areas where your toddler plays is one easy way.  Also, writing materials that are age appropriate encourages practising emerging writing skills.  Bean has colourful wooden letters are a favourite of hers.  Toddlers learn through sensory motor skills so I thought it would be good for my daughter to feel the shape of the letters.  A great gift we received last Christmas were magnetic letters which have also been a hit with her.

    A fun way to reinforce some of those early literacy skills is with hand and finger puppets.
    Finger puppets are a great tool for promoting language and literacy in young children.  They can be used to tell a story and as props if telling a story or singing a song without pictures.   I use finger puppets when we sing Old MacDonald.  

    Bean enjoys playing with her hand puppets most (easier for her to use) she names them and makes the corresponding sounds.  Her father uses different accents for the various puppets which makes it especially exciting for her. ;)

    It's easy to make your own puppets if you don't have any.  You just need some socks and a couple of buttons or an old glove for finger puppets!  Below are some of my daughters favourites.

    How do you encourage your little one to learn and use words at home?

    Sunday, 1 March 2015

    Matching mittens


    To engage toddlers in the cognitive skill of sorting by finding pairs


    • basket
    • various mittens and gloves (adult and children's sizes)
    A great indoor winter activity, this one is super easy to put together as you likely have everything you need already!   I filled a basket with Bean, my husbands and my mittens and gloves and let my daughter do whatever she wanted.  I wanted to see if she would find the pairs of gloves and mittens and notice the size, shape, colour and texture.  This activity works well with more than one toddler as it makes it slightly more difficult to find a matching pair!  I've seen it done in daycare in the toddler room and it's always a lot of fun to watch.  Of course when there is more than one toddler, social and language skills are also being practiced.

    Tuesday, 24 February 2015

    Salad Spinners

    I've had to sacrifice many things as a mother and I have been more than happy to do so for most of those things.  The latest has been my salad spinner!  Bean has made it into her new favourite toy and figured out how to use it all by herself.  She thoroughly enjoys taking it apart and putting it together and spinning it, stepping in it (we no longer use it for salads) and it does not seem to get old.  Today I thought I would try to put a few items in it (she normally spins it with nothing inside) to show her what is actually happening in there.

    I literally took the three items that were closest to where she was and put them inside for a spin.  She grinned from ear to ear when I spun them around in the salad spinner as she watched.  She of course wanted to try and then she attempted to put other items in.  When she is a bit older, I may do this again and put items that have very different masses, like a feather and cotton ball and some heavier blocks and she if she notices any difference. This could easily be a science experiment for preschool children.

    What is the one kitchen gadget your child(ren) can't get enough of?  Do you remember your favourite?

    Monday, 23 February 2015

    Bowling Boxes


    To help my daughter with the skills of rolling a ball to a specific place (Gross Motor) and problem solving (Cognitive) by helping to balance boxes on top of each other


    • cardboard boxes
    • plastic cups
    • take away containers

    (basically anything from your recycling bin that is light enough to be toppled over by a rolling ball)

    Today we had yet another extreme cold weather advisory so Bean and I stuck to playing indoors.  As mentioned in a previous post, she adores throwing and (attempting) to catch balls so I thought it would be good to use those same balls but for indoor bowling. We do not have one of those plastic bowling sets with the pins, but we do have tons and tons of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes.  I stacked the boxes up into a tower and placed cups and smaller baskets near the top then asked Bean to roll the ball to the tower to knock it down.  I demonstrated first and she smiled and got excited and of course wanted to try her hand at it.  I began building again, but she was at my side, so I included her in building.  She did not really help, but it was my attempt to at least get her thinking about balancing all of these items to construct a tower. This activity is open ended as there is no right way to do it and there are so many possible configurations that could be built.

    Have you tried this at home?  Do you have ideas for other material that could be used as stacking toys (blocks)?

    Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    Book Review, Llama Llama Wakey-Wake

    My daughter really enjoys the Llama Llama series of books.  We first heard Llama Llama Red Pajama at a reading readiness (story time) program that she and I used to attend last year when she was about 5 months old.  It soon became a favourite bedtime story.  Bean has several bedtime stories and a few of them include bedtime routines which is great because she can identify with the characters in the book and (hopefully) do the same.
    A few weeks ago I purchased Llama Llama Wakey-wake, because I knew Bean already liked the character Llama Llama.  This book is about the morning routine which was really nice for a change.  Brushing her teeth is not something that Bean does or lets us help her with most days so I find it helps a little bit when we can say that Llama Llama brushes his teeth in the morning (among other things).
    After Bean became familiar with it, I would start the sentence and she would complete it with the actions she knew Llama Llama did in the book.
    If you're looking for a book with a good morning routine to help your toddlers, this one is great!  Let me know what you think.

    Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    Finger Painting


    To allow my daughter to experiment with mixing colours


    • food colouring
    • yogurt
    • paper
    • a bib
    I am surprised at myself for setting up this activity for my daughter since it makes me cringe even seeing her get her hands messy when she eats.  It makes me cringe  because inevitably those same hands end up in her hair- every. single. time. ( I know, I need to get over it!).  It may have been a messy one, but I am glad that I let Bean do it because I think she enjoyed it very much.   She did not want me to take away her palette of "paint" even when there was very little left on it.

    I should add that my little girl must be growing up because she did not get any in her hair and did not attempt to eat any of the yogurt paint. :)

    Thursday, 5 February 2015

    Basket and Balls


    To encourage the gross motor skill of throwing which helps toddler's coordination


    • Basket
    • An assortment of balls
    I really think that the outdoors is the best place for Bean to explore her physical abilities and develop her gross motor skills. The last couple of weeks have been really cold, so Bean and I have not been spending as much time outside as we would like.   I know that my daughter loves to throw a ball, she especially enjoys playing catch with her Uncle.  He says she has quite the arm already!  Since I already knew that she enjoyed throwing, I decided to add a basket the last time she wanted to play catch.  Instead of throwing the ball to me, I put a basket on its side and threw balls in it to see if Bean would do as I did.  My hope was that she would be able to increase her coordination skills by aiming the ball to go into the basket.  She did manage to, but only because she stood right beside it when she threw the balls! haha! It was a really fun activity for her and I am sure that we will try it again.   Maybe we will even move back a little bit the next time and learn to throw from a bit of a distance, or not!

    Monday, 2 February 2015

    Make and Shake

    Hi there!  Happy Music Monday!  Bean and I have been dancing and playing our instruments to her favourite songs for a couple of months now.  She has a variety of instruments, but I thought it would be nice to have a homemade shaker for something new to use today.  I used a clean take away container with its lid and some beads from the dollar store that I had already.  Any container can be used for this, but I like using the beaded chains so that in the event my daughter opened the lid, it could be easily picked up and contained.

    Here's what it looked like:

    Friday, 30 January 2015

    Book Review, Blue Hat, Green Hat

    Happy Friday!  Here's another book review, this time it's Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton.  I adore all of Sandra Boynton's books, but I decided to write about this one because it's the first one that Bean giggled at when we read to her.  I am not sure if she understood what was so funny at 9 months old, she probably laughed because we did.   However, she definitely gets it now!  She will now say, "Oops!"  when I point to the silly turkey in the book.
    This book is a great book to teach little ones about colours and it's short, simple and funny.  I would not be surprised if you had to read it several times in a row!

    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    Hot Rocks


    To help my toddler understand hot(warm) and cold using river rocks (Sensory Discrimination)


    • Two containers that are similar 
    • river rocks (to be divided equally into the containers)

    As mentioned above, I divided the rocks into two. I put one set into the freezer about an hour before I did the activity.  For the hot rocks- I put them on a tray in the toaster oven and "baked" at 200 degrees for slightly less than a minute.  I set them aside to cool just to be absolutely sure they were not too hot for my daughter to handle.  Please double check the temperature of the rocks prior to letting your child play with them.
    Then I placed each set of rocks into identical containers and asked my daughter to join me on the floor.  She immediately took the lid off of one and then the other.  She picked up one of the cold rocks and raised her shoulders and smiled at me, then3 quickly put it down. :) I asked if the rock felt "cold" or "hot".  I guess she thought both containers had cold rocks, because she just kept taking rocks out of the container with the cold rocks.  I decided to put a cold rock in one of her hands and a warm one in the other.  I repeated saying cold and warm and she did the same.  We also tapped the rocks together to make sounds.  My daughter seemed to enjoy taking all the rocks out and putting the lids on and off the containers.
    (Note:  I supervised my daughter the entire time as she still has a tendency to put things into her mouth)

    Monday, 26 January 2015

    Sensory Surprise Bag


    To encourage the use of senses through exploration of new objects
    (Skill: Sensory Discrimination)


    For this activity, you can use any assortment of objects as long as they are safe and objects in which you think your child will be interested.  Some of the ones I used are:

    • scented pinecone
    • a clean sponge
    • ribbons of various colours
    • spikey rubber ball
    • lids from tubes of lotion
    • feathers
    • bath puff
    • a kid friendly bag or container to put it all into

    My daughter had not seen any of these items prior to the activity so I was especially interested in seeing what she would do with them.  I placed the bag on the floor and Bean came to it and began reaching in and taking all of the items out.  She gave me each item as she took it out of the bag, so I used the opportunity to describe the " cinnamon scented, pointy pinecone", "spikey ball", "smooth ribbons" etc.  She was most interested in the ball as she really enjoys practicing playing catch.  It was a fun and quick activity that is also easy to put together in minutes.

    Friday, 23 January 2015

    Edible Water Colours

    Around this time last year, I wanted to let my daughter experiment with some form of painting or colouring. I was unable to find anything that was safe for her to put in her mouth yet still fun for her to use to paint.  Then I looked in my fridge- all the fruit and veggies in there!  I decided to shred or juice the fruit and vegetables and put them through a fine sieve to remove the pulp.  I was left with beautiful edible water colours.  I decided to let Bean use fingerling potatoes to dip into the paint instead of traditional brushes since back then, everything was a teething toy!  I used spinach, carrots and a mix of beets and blueberries for the three paints.  The colours were pretty faint when applied on the paper, but I don't think Bean minded the subtle colours.  The potatoes were great at moving the liquid around, but not so spongy of course, so I'd recommend using something else as "paint brushes".

    Monday, 19 January 2015

    Music Mondays

    Exposing children to music early on has huge developmental benefits.  There are great music programs for even the youngest infant.  I have been taking Bean to a few different
    music classes over the last year and a half but we are really enjoying our current class.  One of my favourite parts about the class is at the end when everyone selects an instrument to play to the music(recorded, instrumental mix).  I am amazed by how musically inclined children are.  They shake their bells and hit the bongos to the music or just dance with their instruments.  
    I liked this idea so much that I decided I would have Music Mondays for Bean.  
    I just thought I would put all of Bean’s instruments out and put her other toys aside and turn on music and start playing an instrument to the beat of the music. Bean has access to all of her toys any time she would like (although I do rotate) but when I put specific ones out, it definitely gets her attention.
    We’ve only done it a couple of weeks, but it’s really fun. We select popular songs that she likes already, so she’s already having a good time!

    Wednesday, 14 January 2015

    Spatial Exploration

    The last couple of months, my daughter has been trying to fit objects into other objects.  Sometimes the objects fit, other times they do not.   She often gets frustrated after multiple attempts of doing her best to coerce an object (for example a ball) into another object that it was not meant to fit into (i.e., her shoe!)
    I decided to bring out some of her toys that she had not interacted with in a while to further explore this new found interest in spatial exploration.  I brought back the classic sorting toy she received last year as well as one I made myself out of a cardboard box.  I used an old box and cut out various shapes on the top using an exact-o knife.  I also painted it to make it look appealing, ha!  My intention was to put an assortment of her toys and other household items with the box and ask Bean if any of them would fit through the cut outs in the box.  I put it right beside the sorting toy in hopes of her being able to identify the similarities. 
    Bean seemed to enjoy filling the cardboard box with all sorts of toys and crayons and utensils.  I think I will bring it out again a few more times until she moves on from it.  While not the most fancy or aesthetically beautiful toy, it allowed Bean to further develop the skill of spatial exploration and I was happy to be able to provide an additional opportunity for her to do so.  Let me know how it goes if you decide to make a sorter box too!

    Monday, 12 January 2015

    Book Love + Clip-Clop Review

    Reading is something my daughter has enjoyed since her first few days as a newborn.   I remember her milk-drunk smiling as my husband read to her while I held her in my arms.  One book that brought her particular joy was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss.  This book had the ability to calm her when she wouldn't stop crying because the story and the familiar beat and tone with which her father read to her in had become so comforting to her.
    After a 10 day trip to Europe, the first thing she did when we got home was head straight to her books to reacquaint herself with her beloved library.   We spend A LOT of time reading!   This is why I'm thinking of making book reviews a regular feature on the blog.  It will include some of Bean's favourites as well as new ones as we discover them with you!

    Today, I'll talk about Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee.  We discovered this book at the library and checked it out.  Upon bringing it home, we discovered Bean absolutely adored it.  It's short and cute and can be quite interactive- perfect for children 12 months and up.  It's about a horse (Mr. Horse) who gives a ride to all of his animal friends (great for children to practice naming animals).   It's fun repetition and excited characters are what Bean liked most about the book.  To  make it more exciting, we put Bean on our knee and bounce her up and down to mimic the actions of Mr. Horse.  She giggles with delight and asks for us to read it again and again.  This is one book we had to purchase because it was just too much fun!

    Thursday, 8 January 2015

    Making a mark

    For the past few months, Bean has been really interested in painting and scribbling.  She will do it with just about anything that she knows will make a mark.  Non-toxic crayons and washable markers are great for little hands.  For some variety, I tried letting my daughter "paint" with water on the Buddha board.  It was very novel to her at first (a few months ago).  It allowed her to draw lines and designs and within minutes the water dried to leave a fresh board for her to paint on again.  I loved it because it was relatively mess-free yet still allowed Bean to be creative.

    Just a few days ago, I was writing on a chalk board we have in our kitchen.  Bean saw me and immediately wanted a piece of chalk to do the same.  Our chalk board hangs in our kitchen and is not in the most child friendly of places.  I decided to get some black construction paper and tape it to the floor and let her draw on it.   Both of these activities promote physical development in fine motor skills by holding and using tools and using them to make marks.

    Tuesday, 6 January 2015

    Water play + Bubbles!

    My daughter loves bath time because it usually involves lots of play time and splashing around.  Since she has extremely dry skin and it's January, we have been keeping bath time short these days.   So when Bean (her nickname) decided she would open the bottom drawer in the kitchen where the straws are located, I decided it would be part of a fun and quick little activity that would allow her to play with water without having to take a skin drying bath!

    Since we were already in the kitchen I got a pot and added a tiny amount of dish soap and filled up the pot about half way with water.  I then laid down a towel and started blowing bubbles in it.  She was delighted by the bubbles and proceeded to take my straw from my mouth and put it in the water along with the straw I had given her.
    She was able to see cause and effect by bubbles being formed when I blew through the straw.  Later we added food colouring to add a different element to the same activity.  She twirled the straws in the water and eventually started getting her pants wet, so we ended the activity.  (Perhaps sooner that she would have liked) ;)

    In any case it's a simple and fun sensory activity that you can do in your kitchen.  Next time I may add a scent (lavender or vanilla) to add yet another sensory element.

    Friday, 2 January 2015

    Welcome & Introduction!

    Hi there!

    Welcome to momece! This blog is a place for me to share some of the activities, adventures and a few special moments I experience with my daughter with all of you. I have been on this incredible learning journey of motherhood for over a year and am constantly amazed at how much and fast my baby is growing and learning.

    In addition to being a mom, I'm an early childhood educator (ECE) and worked at a child care centre where I cared for groups of children aged three to eight years old. While I had some experience with infants and toddlers when completing school placements, it was completely different being a parent to an infant!  I felt like no amount of schooling or books could have prepared me for the first few months of being a mother.  

    My daughter walking in the park
    My daughter is an active, vivacious and loving toddler now and I am finding myself having to come up with learning experiences for her much like I did while I worked as an educator.  This blog will be a place where I will document some of what I will try with my daughter in an effort to engage her in activities that are developmentally appropriate, safe and fun!  I will be honest about what worked and what needed improvement & tweaking.

    I hope you will join me in my journey!