hands on : as we grow http://handsonaswegrow.com Hands on kids activities for hands on moms. Focusing on kids activities perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:29:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Help Your Child Make Friends at Any Age http://handsonaswegrow.com/help-kids-make-friends/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/help-kids-make-friends/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:29:12 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=57218 Friendships are so important for children; friends not only offer a playmate, but they can become someone to help them solve problems, a trusted ally who will listen to their fears, and try out new ideas with them. When Gymboree offered to sponsor a post about the importance of friendship I knew I had to […]

Help Your Child Make Friends at Any Age on handsonaswegrow.com

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Friendships are so important for children; friends not only offer a playmate, but they can become someone to help them solve problems, a trusted ally who will listen to their fears, and try out new ideas with them. When Gymboree offered to sponsor a post about the importance of friendship I knew I had to accept because…

We all want our kids to have friends!

One of the greatest joys in life is watching my kids develop deep and lasting friendships.

But the road to those friendships is not always smooth. My kids have been lucky; we lived in the same small city for most of their lives and they had grown up being friends with my friend’s children. Sure they made friends outside of those circles as well, but I never had to think much about helping them make friends.

Then we moved to another state!

We kept in touch with our friends back home (in this era of social media and video calls it was easy to do), however, I knew that my kids needed to make new friends too!

I have spent the last year thinking about friendship and helping my kids make new friends.

Two parts to helping kids make friends

 

All of which led me to realize that there are really two parts to helping kids make friends: giving them the social tools to play well with others and enter a group of kids who are playing, and creating opportunities to make friends.

friendship important-20150819-8-3

To help your kids learn the social skills they need to make and keep friends try these strategies listed by age:

Introduce Prosocial Skills Toddlers and Preschoolers

Introduce prosocial skills such as sharing and turn taking. This doesn’t mean you have to immediately force your child to give up a toy just because someone else wants it, but you can help them understand that others want to play too.

Narrate what’s happening when another child wants a turn with an item.

“I see that Sara wants to play cars too. Can you choose a car to share with her?”

“Bobby wants to have a turn on the rocking horse can he use it when you are finished?”

Model empathy. Toddlers and preschoolers are not naturally empathetic, but they benefit from and learn empathy when it is modeled by caregivers.

Set up opportunities for parallel play such as duplicate tools in a sandbox, creating an opportunity to play side by side without the stress of collaborating.

Play with your child and their friends, guiding the play and helping to resolve conflicts as they arise.

Find opportunities for your child to play with kids who are slightly older and who have more well-developed skills for playing together.

Help your child learn to introduce themselves and ask “Can I play too?”.

Continue to Help 4-6 Year Olds Develop Prosocial Skills

Children at this stage may seem to have these skills one moment and completely lack them the next. Just keep gently reminding them, modeling the skills yourself when possible.

Introduce and model conflict resolution. Be wary of always solving their problems for them, instead offer possible solutions and let them choose what they would like to try. Then help put their solutions into action.

Help your child and their friends to come up with a plan for sharing toys and materials. Some examples might be each child plays with an item for a set amount of time and when the timer goes off they trade. Singing a particular song such as the ABC’s as a means for taking turns on the swing.

Teach some helpful scripts such as:

“I want to play too, can we find a way share?”

“Can I use that when you are finished?”

“Can we trade?”

Teach your child set boundaries with others. It is reasonable to want others not to hurt you.

Teach them to be specific. It is usually more successful to say “don’t push me” than simply yelling “STOP!”.

Show them how to join a group of children by asking what they are playing and if they can play too. Occasionally help them come up with prompts for entering another child’s play, for instance if a group of kids are playing astronauts suggest that your child ask if they can be an alien or mission control as a means of joining the game.

Celebrate Older Kids Interests and Friendships

Help your child celebrate their interests whether it’s dolls, trucks, fairies or dinosaurs, we all gravitate towards friends who share our interests.

Help them broaden their interests; you never know what you might like or who you might meet trying out something new!

Keep offering opportunities for them to meet new people.

When you see a friendship blossoming support it but don’t force it. Older children need to have ownership over their friendships.

friendship important-20150826-8-2

Don’t meddle in their friendships (unless you suspect that there is something harmful going on). Keep asking questions and demonstrate your interest but don’t offer advice unless they ask.

You don’t have to be friends with the parent’s of your children’s friends, it’s great when it works out that way, but it’s okay to just be acquaintances.

You can support your children’s friendships by creating shared experiences; have their friends over for dinner, make a craft or play games.

6 Great Ways to Meet New Friends

Take advantage of public spaces such as parks, pools, and libraries.

If you have young children, join a playgroup.

Create or join a group of local parents on social media to create group outings such as trips to the zoo, playdates at the park, or movies at the theater.

Have your child participate in a sport, it doesn’t even have to be a team sport like soccer or baseball, martial arts and gymnastics work just as well for meeting friends.

Help your child join a club, whether it’s chess, sewing, robotics, or scouts; they will be bound to meet other like-minded individuals.

Go to community events where you can meet other families like Gymboree’s in store event, September, 12th 2015. Where they will be celebrating their new line of clothing featuring characters from DreamWorks new animated series Dinotrux!

Get a sneak-peek at Dinotrux and create your own Dinotrux world using DreamWorks COLOR app. You’ll also have a chance to enter to win a Dinotrux shopping spree at Gymboree.

RSVP now to join in the excitement.

Tell us your favorite way to make new friends!

Also comment below for a chance to win a $75.00 gift card at Gymboree.

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Color Sorting Sensory Bag http://handsonaswegrow.com/color-sorting-sensory-bag/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/color-sorting-sensory-bag/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:37:46 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=56905 I created a simple sensory bag with buttons and it turned into a color sorting game for the kids during one of the 7 Day Challenges. The challenge was to make a sensory bag! The sensory bag is simply just hair gel in a Ziploc bag. You could double bag it to seal it better. I […]

Color Sorting Sensory Bag on handsonaswegrow.com

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I created a simple sensory bag with buttons and it turned into a color sorting game for the kids during one of the 7 Day Challenges. The challenge was to make a sensory bag!

The sensory bag is simply just hair gel in a Ziploc bag. You could double bag it to seal it better.

A color sorting sensory bag - great for color recognition and fine motor!

I inserted two colors of buttons into each sensory bag and taped it to the table.

I created two of these so Louis and George could both play with them, but it turned out to be fun for Henry too.

a color sensory bag for toddlers

For Louis’s bag, I just left it as is. He’s still grasping the whole color recognition thing and wouldn’t have the patience to sort the colors.

He simply enjoyed moving the buttons around in the hair gel, loving the sensory experience.

When the older two got a hold of the sensory bags, I added sorting ‘sections’ for each color.

I drew on the baggies with permanent markers. I drew big circles in the corresponding colors of buttons, and wrote the name of the colors as well.

A color sorting sensory bag for learning colors (and a fine motor activity too!)

The kids then pushed the buttons around in the baggy to fit into the correctly colored circles.

A color sorting sensory bag for learning colors (and a fine motor activity too!)

It became quite a fine motor task!

Find more of our fine motor activities for kids.

A color sorting sensory bag for learning colors (and a fine motor activity too!)

They wanted to do it over and over again, so I erased the permanent marker with a Magic Eraser (affiliate link) and drew new sections for them to sort their colors into!

A color sorting sensory bag for learning colors (and a fine motor activity too!)

Find more activities to learn colors:

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Make a Toddler Busy Board That’s Supernova http://handsonaswegrow.com/toddler-busy-board/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/toddler-busy-board/#respond Tue, 25 Aug 2015 11:00:00 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=57242 Sometimes toddlers need to just be busy. This is a crazy awesome toddler busy board that a reader created for her daughter. It's supernova!

Make a Toddler Busy Board That’s Supernova on handsonaswegrow.com

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Sometimes toddlers need to just move! And sometimes toddlers need to just be busy. I am so excited to have a fellow Huddler, Leann, share the toddler busy board that she created for her daughter Nova. It’s Supernova!

Our little Supernova can be quite the challenge when it comes to picking toys for her. At 19 months, she rarely wants to play with traditional toys, so I frequently scour the wonderful world of Pinterest to find ideas to entertain her.

A quick search will provide you with plenty of ideas for toddler busy boards.

You can make it as big or small, colorful or not! It’s really up to your creativity.

Some people use things they have around their house to create a board like this. But seeing as I’m not the handyman sort, I had to buy almost everything new.

What’s included in this toddler busy board:

What to include and how to make a toddler busy board

(This post contains affiliate links that help support hands on : as we grow, thank you!)

A sturdy back board for the busy board.

I knew that I wanted something a little fancier to be able to throw into our living room and have it look really good.

Because of this I bought a thicker, ¾ inch plywood board from Home Depot.

The guys in the lumber section thought it would have been possible to create this with a much thinner board. But I didn’t want screws poking out the back, so ¾ inch worked for us.

I also bought varnish and a waterproof finish. This allowed me to choose the background color of the board. Having a finish on it means that if anything gets spilled on the board during play, it’s super easy to wipe off without worry about damaging the wood.

You could probably do something similar with any commercial paints if you didn’t want the wood finish, but I liked the natural look in the back.

toddler busy board-20150818-12

There’s more to the name.

The name section is one of my favorites. I found the wooden letter’s to Nova’s name at a local craft store.

I painted the letters in basic colors to help with color identification, and then attached commercial grade Velcro to the back (you’ll find I used a lot of Velcro for this project!).

I had a few pieces of felt lying around from other projects. I cut a brown piece and super glued it to the wood.

I felt like this would give her a better chance to learn to stick the letters on without having to be perfect.

toddler busy board-20150818-11

The busy board fun is in the details!

The pop light and zebra squeaky toy were both things we had lying around the house.

Originally I had wanted to put an actual light switch on the board, but I’m no electrician, so the pop light worked in a pinch and still teaches the cause and effect I was looking for.

Use a pop light for cause and effect on toddler busy board

Also try these activities that keep kids busy!

The zebra was a squeaky toy from infant days that still seemed like a fun (but not so annoying) noise making option for the board.

Both were attached with Velcro so they’d be easy to remove if need be.

Reuse old toys for toddler busy board

The ball drop is a simple PVC plumbing pipe that I painted white. I then colored it like a rainbow with Sharpies, again for that color identification.

We use little pompom balls for the drop, but realistically you could use anything that would fit through the tube.

I was concerned about the basket at the bottom being ripped off continuously, so I attached it with industrial Velcro so that it’s easy to pull off and put back on.

Colored PVC pipe and padlocks for toddler busy board

The question mark squares in the center are thinner pieces of plywood I had left over from another project that I painted and attached to hinges so she can open and close them. Eventually I’ll put stuff under them for her to feel and see.

The section at the bottom with the wheels is another favorite section!

Wheel and magnetic doorstop on toddler busy board

I found a magnetic doorstop! Little miss loves her magnets so I thought it would be a fun inclusion.

The other half of the doorstop pushes in like a button, so I included that in the top center of the board.

She also loves spinning the black wheel and twanging the other doorstop in that bottom section.

Whisk and doorstop section of toddler busy board

The whisk in the center of the board is a multi-use portion. She can slide it along the door handle or pull the spring part of the whisk apart and watch it mold back into shape.

The other door handle with the bells on it is similar, except I wanted something else to make more noise. I took some decorative rope I had used for Christmas last year and tied the bells on to that so she could shake the rope and get the full jingle effect.

It’s quite entertaining when she gets a good beat!

Lastly, I picked a bunch of different kinds of security locks to throw all over. These are great for open and close concepts, learning to twist things, put keys in holes, etc.

She seems to spend a lot of time just tinkering with these especially.

And that’s the basics of our busy board! I hope this gives you some great ideas for your own.

Share your own ideas for a busy board in the comments.

Item list for our toddler busy board:

What to include and how to make a toddler busy board

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Managing Screen Time Rules for Kids + Free Guide http://handsonaswegrow.com/create-technology-rules-kids/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/create-technology-rules-kids/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:00:00 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=57230 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact. I realized this summer that I have been way too slack in my parenting. I’ve always taken pride in my hands-off approach to rules. I still do. I’m all about doing hands on activities and teaching kids responsibilities, but never have enforced a […]

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

I realized this summer that I have been way too slack in my parenting.

I’ve always taken pride in my hands-off approach to rules. I still do.

I’m all about doing hands on activities and teaching kids responsibilities, but never have enforced a set of family rules.

However, there was a time this summer that I realized that my kids were glued to the television. And their behavior got worse and worse when they weren’t glued in front of it. So I tended to just let it happen more and more.

I finally snapped out of my ‘funk’ and made them a deal. If they could only watch one show per day for the entire week, then they could have a friend over the following week.

Henry was on top of it! He made a chart to track his shows.

It worked like a charm and their behavior off-screen improved tremendously. And now a good month later, I realize that this needs to take effect in all of their screen time, not just television.

I’m a huge advocate for kids using technology. Just as long as its not taking over and affecting their behavior (for the worse).

I know there’s handy tablets and apps, like our sponsor OurPact, that can limit the screen time for kids. But I’ve never fully taken advantage of this because I didn’t know my own rules yet!

OurPact-6

I’ve always kind of limited their screen time, but never had set rules in place. It was much like my other parenting, go with the flow and taking care of problems as they arise. But never having a set rule in place for either the kids, or I, to follow.

And I realized that the reason I never made any rules is because I didn’t know how to. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what I even wanted (or didn’t want) to allow.

I made this guide to figure it out, so that I can utilize OurPact, an iPhone parent control app that was created to help parents guide the mobile habits of the kids (and teach them responsibility using technology).

I created questions to ask yourself as a parent what you want (or don’t want) for screen time for the kids. This guide is meant to write down the rules that you want. And post it somewhere to reference when you need to.

Download and print out your guide to screen time.

Guide to create screen time rules for your kids

The key to any screen time is setting your limits, and until now, I’ve done a poor job at that.

What kind of limits do you set for screen time?

This is what I currently have set (and believe me, this will be revised over and over again as the kids grow and our needs change). Currently, I made rules as a family as a whole. But I can see down the road where it may be beneficial to have screen time rules for each child separately.

My kids can have screen time after they’re ready for school in the mornings, after school, and again after dinner.

My kids cannot have screen time during meal times, or before talking about their day at school (aka, going through their backpack) or before homework is done.

My kids can have up to 30 minutes of screen at a time, up to one hour per day.

How to set screen time rules for your family

What can the kids use during screen time?

My kids can use any of our technology devices during the approved times, including the television, tablet with OurPact app installed, desktop computer or laptop.

OurPact is an iOS application (Android coming in October) that can do all of this! Parents can schedule internet and app use according to the routines you have. You can cap the number of hours that each kid can spend on the screen, as well as block (or allow) certain websites and apps.

They can use any of the apps that we have installed on the tablet, including:

The Apps My Kids Use During Screen Time

These are our latest apps the kids are continually using these days. These are in addition to the list of our favorite learning apps for preschoolers.

Kids favorite apps to use during screen time

(The apps listed are all free, unless otherwise noted, and all for the iPad.)

  1. Dots
  2. Geoboard
  3. Code Crusher – Classic
  4. Design A Train
  5. Railroad Train
  6. Toca Robot Lab ($2.99)
  7. Toca Monsters
  8. Hangman
  9. Dot to Dot Lite
  10. Rush Hr Free

They can watch Netflix Kids. They can use IXL, PBS Kids, and Type Rocket Jr. on the computers.

My kids cannot use YouTube. (Although I have heard that there’s a YouTube for Kids available, I just have not checked into it at this point). I have nothing against supervised use of YouTube, there’s lots of fun farming videos my kids love. But whenever I’ve left them alone with YouTube, they keep clicking on related videos until they get so off-topic that I no longer approve.

Can screen time be earned or lost?

My kids can earn extra screen time by helping out around the house, receiving praises from their teachers, being ‘caught’ helping their friends or brothers.

My kids can lose their screen time as well by talking back, repeatedly not listening, or fighting.

When screen time is abused, screen time will be taken away either for the rest of the day or the following day, whatever Mom or Dad sees as fitting.

OurPact also provides these rewards and punishments at a touch!

Any exceptions for screen time rules?

It is okay to break our screen time rules when we are on car rides or for school projects (when homework calls for it).

Give kids something to look forward to when screen time is over.

When they’re done with screen time, we are going to make it a point to do something together. So that there’s enjoyment in shutting off the screen. Based on the times that screen time is allowed for us, we are looking forward to these things when the screens are shut off:

  • Story time
  • Help make dinner together
  • Take a walk or bike ride
  • Head to the playground
  • Do an activity of their choice

OurPact provides guidance to recommended screen time

If you’re still lost in creating screen time rules for your kids, and you’re not even sure what you want to allow, OurPact has guides based on child research. The apps recommends blocking schedules for each individual child’s specific age. That takes a whole lot of pressure off of me trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do.

OurPact app to help enforce screen time rules

Have you set up screen time rules? What are they?

Don’t forget to download the guide to set up your screen time rules and download the OurPact app on your devices to help enforce them!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

Managing Screen Time Rules for Kids + Free Guide on handsonaswegrow.com

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Printable Lunch Box Notes for Beginning Readers http://handsonaswegrow.com/printable-lunch-box-notes-beginning-readers/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/printable-lunch-box-notes-beginning-readers/#respond Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:00:00 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=57183 If you’re looking for a sweet way to get your child interested in reading, these adorable lunch box notes for beginning readers are shared by Carolyn of The Pleasantest Thing. Lunchbox notes are a sweet way to give your kids a little mid-day boost. It’s a long day for them at school, and getting the […]

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If you’re looking for a sweet way to get your child interested in reading, these adorable lunch box notes for beginning readers are shared by Carolyn of The Pleasantest Thing.

Lunchbox notes are a sweet way to give your kids a little mid-day boost.

It’s a long day for them at school, and getting the notes gives them a little Mommy-magic.

Print out these cute, easy reading Lunch Box Notes for beginner readers - they'll think I'm supermom!

I like to print out lunchbox notes — like this set of six I made for you to download and use.

Plus they work super well for fruit cups, like our sponsor Del Monte® ‘s new Fruit and Veggie Fusions Fruit Cups.

Print out these cute, easy reading Lunch Box Notes for beginner readers - they'll think I'm supermom!

Download and print –> Lunchbox notes

Print out these cute, easy reading Lunch Box Notes for beginner readers - they'll think I'm supermom!

Many days, though, I wind up writing something last minute. This happens more frequently the farther into the year it is.

But – just because I do it at the last minute, doesn’t make it any less special for my kids!

Simple way to include little notes in the kids' lunches!

I don’t want to make the notes disappointing or stressful in any way. So I try to keep the actual words to things I am positive they know. And pictures go a long way!

Simple way to include little notes in the kids' lunches! (free printable lunch box notes)

Here are 6 ways I make lunchbox notes special.

You can write these on the top of a fruit and veggie cup, or even on a napkin. Here I wrote it on the Del Monte® Fusions Cup (yummy and with 1 combined serving of fruit and veggies). If you are writing on a Del Monte® Fusions Cup, be sure to use permanent marker so your note doesn’t rub off in the box.

  • Use their names. Names are one of the first words kids recognize, so it’s a fun one for them to see.
  • A drawing based on something special happening at school that day. Are they reading the Cat in the Hat? Draw the red and white hat. Teddy bear day? Draw a bear.
  • Draw something based on something special happening after school. Soccer game? Draw a soccer ball. Do you know your child wants to come home and play with blocks? Draw some blocks!
  • Favorite colors. Really anything in their favorite colors. I just buy sharpies in my son’s three favorite colors, and even if I just draw a few stars or hearts, he knows it’s personalized because it’s in his favorite colors.
  • A big smiley face or sun. They are sure to put a smile on your little one’s face!
  • Your child’s age. I’ll write either just a big “5” for my 5 year old, or 5 stars. His age is always his favorite number, so he totally loves it!
  • Stick figures to represent each family member. Personalize with rough hair style, or eye color.

The important thing to remember is that your kid will not care if it’s perfect (or even good). Kids are very, very forgiving. And they’ll just be so thrilled to be getting a special note from home!

Simple way to include little notes in the kids' lunches! (free printable lunch box notes)

This lunchbox shows the nutritious Del Monte® Fusions Cups – which I am happy to give my kids because they have no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial colors or flavors. The vegetables are hidden in the lightly sweetened juice, which tastes like yummy fruit!

If you want to know more about the nutrition info for the Del Monte® Fusions (the only veggie and fruit cup) Learn more here.

Need inspiration for some super lunchbox ideas? Del Monte® has you covered. Check out their Superhero lunch Pinterest board.

Be sure to enter the #SharetheSuper Sweepstakes on Twitter or Instagram.

There are just two steps to enter:

  1. Follow @DelMonte
  2. Post a picture of your child being super and use the hashtags #SharetheSuper #sweepstakes for a chance to win

Winners will be selected weekly to win a branded backpack with new Del Monte® Fusions inside & One grand prize winner will be awarded $2,000 at the end of the campaign.

Visit www.sharethesuper.com for more info and $1 off coupon

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Del Monte . The opinions and text are all mine.

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Find & Erase the Matching Shapes http://handsonaswegrow.com/find-erase-matching-shapes/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/find-erase-matching-shapes/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 11:04:18 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=57201 Matching shapes can be a great way to introduce new shapes to toddlers. This is a fun activity for toddlers to find and erase the matching shapes!

Find & Erase the Matching Shapes on handsonaswegrow.com

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Matching shapes can be a great way to introduce new shapes to toddlers and preschoolers. This is a fun activity that toddlers will love to do outside!

This summer hasn’t been very fair for the kids.

Louis has to nap still. And the older boys get to go do things without him and he misses out.

This particular time, the older boys went to the pool with Dad while Louis napped. He woke up early and I think was feeling kind of left out, kind of sad and mopey. Although he never did complain about not getting to go to the pool. I think he maybe forgot where they were (and I wasn’t about to remind him… no need to start a tantrum, right?).

But he was begging for an activity to do (or an ‘activio’ as he calls them). I had nothing planned. Bad planning on my part.

He mentioned he wanted to paint on the sidewalk again. Bells went off in my head, I have this brand new patio that I’ve been waiting to do a sidewalk chalk activity on!

Toddler activity to find and erase the matching shapes

So I started to setup an activity, much like the tracing squiggly lines activity we’ve done in the past (but this time on smooth pavement!).

Louis had a complete (and I mean complete) meltdown.

He absolutely did not want to do his activity on the patio! No way! He wanted it to be on the front sidewalk like when we painted with trucks.

After letting him calm down for a bit, I let the idea go and we were inside hanging out. Before I knew it, he left and went outside and did this activity completely on his own. Then came in to tell me he wanted more to do (and it had to be done in green chalk this time)!

Ever wonder what to do with a demanding two year old?

This time, I drew several pairs of shapes on the cement.

Toddler activity to find and erase the matching shapes

I drew matching circles, squares and triangles.

I had no idea if Louis knew his shapes yet (why do I feel like I forget all these things with my third?) so I wanted to keep it simple.

Can you find and erase the matching shapes?

Toddler can find and erase the matching shapes

I asked Louis to tell me one of the shapes. And he found and told me the first circle shape he found.

Find 10 activities for toddlers to learn shapes!

He went on to ‘erase’ the circle using a paintbrush and water.

My kids love it when I break out one of the ‘real’ paintbrushes for the house. They think they’re big stuff when they get to use real tools like this, so its always a win!

After he completely erased away one circle I asked him if he could find another circle that matched that one. He did!

And then we repeated with squares and triangles!

What shape is this? Can you find the matching one?

I’d sort of quiz him while he was erasing each shapes to see if he remembered what shape he was erasing.

I was shocked that he knew them all pretty easily. He did need reminding of the name of the square once, but if I asked him which one was the square, he knew it right off the bat!

Can you find the matching shapes and erase them?

I was also shocked at how thoroughly he erased each shape. He spent a good amount of time on each one clearing it away. And if he noticed it came back after it dried, he’d go back and erase it again!

You may also love this jumping activity to find the matching shapes!

5 weekly plans of activities for each one & two year olds!

discover+play-bundle2The DISCOVER + PLAY eBooks have a combined 10 weekly plans of activities that are perfect for the toddler age. Fun ways to get one and two year olds moving, work on fine motor, do arts and craft projects and have fun as a family! Each weekly plan includes a handy supply list and activities broken down to know exactly what to do in a simple sentence or two.

Get your weekly activity plans here.

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How to Host a Sensory Play Date http://handsonaswegrow.com/how-to-host-a-sensory-play-date/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/how-to-host-a-sensory-play-date/#respond Mon, 17 Aug 2015 10:42:26 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=57082 I love sensory activities and I keep a number of dry, fairly easy to clean up sensory bins in my kitchen, but I am not always as motivated to do more messy activities because of the extra prep and mess. With four kids, one of whom is a toddler, it’s so easy to think – […]

How to Host a Sensory Play Date on handsonaswegrow.com

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I love sensory activities and I keep a number of dry, fairly easy to clean up sensory bins in my kitchen, but I am not always as motivated to do more messy activities because of the extra prep and mess. With four kids, one of whom is a toddler, it’s so easy to think – oh another day when I have more time, less chaos, help…all of which adds up to not as often as I’d like.

One way I have found to make sure I don’t put off these important activities indefinitely is to set up sensory play dates.

Make a play date a potluck!

Think of it as a sensory potluck: one person hosts and everyone brings a sensory activity to share. Really all you need is one other family willing to participate but 2-5 is probably ideal. You can meet just once or you can set up a recurring date (once a month, once a week whatever works for you).

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Whether you are planning a single play date or a recurring one, these tips will help things run more smoothly:

Decide what ages to include.

Sensory play is great for all ages but if you only want a specific age group it’s better to let people know that upfront (my current group is a mixed aged consisting of mostly toddlers and preschoolers but with children ranging from 8 months to 10 years).

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Think about how to set up the sensory activities in your space.

Think about your space and how many activities you will want to do at a time. Don’t worry about being short on tables you can utilize benches, low brick walls, lawn chairs and even put sensory bins eight on the floor.

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Coordinate the activities just like you would a potluck.

Coordinate activities so people don’t bring the same activities. You may also want to ask for a balance of wet and dry activities.

If you are looking for inspiration check out 25 Sensory Activities for Kids.

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Discuss how everyone feels about mixing materials.

Inevitably someone will want to mix the rice and the shaving cream and knowing ahead of time what works for your group will make it easier to monitor the activities.

A great compromise is to have a few extra dishpans available where some of the materials can be brought over for mixing.

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Consider how kids will clean up between activities.

If a hose or sink is not in the immediate vicinity you can use a water container with a spigot (affiliate link). I use the disposable variety and cut a hole in the top so it can be refilled.

This often becomes a sensory experience of its own so keep a big bucket under the spout to catch the water for reuse and to avoid puddles.

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

What should each parent bring?

Suggest that each person bring a towel, a change of clothes, and a snack.

On the day of the sensory play date…

On the day of the play date figure out ahead of time where you will locate each activity.

Have an easy low maintenance activity ready to go so that the kids can be engaged with minimum supervision while the adults set up the activities.

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Some of my favorite low maintenance activities are a sticky tape web, a sticky walk or collage or a bubble wrap runway (for more than 3 or for kids I like lots of squares of bubble wrap so everyone can jump, pop, and stomp to their hearts content).

While these are low maintenance activities they still need at least one adult supervising.

How to host your own sensory play date (make it a potluck is genius!)

Assign a parent or older child to supervise each area and relax, enjoy all the messy fun, doing this in a group means you don’t have to supervise or clean it up all by yourself!

How to Host a Sensory Play Date on handsonaswegrow.com

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