Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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Using Puzzles for Scissor, Sorting and Tracing Activities

Maybe you don’t need to consign those old puzzles just yet…

This Melissa & Doug puzzle is not a challenge for my toddler anymore.  It’s perfect for my 8 month old.  I found a way, however, to expand its use and let my toddler get more out of it.  Here are some ideas for this puzzle…

Cutting 

1.) We drew shapes on construction paper so that the shapes and colors matched the spots on the puzzle.  First we practiced cutting the shapes to match the puzzle pieces.

Sorting 

2.) Then we matched the cut out shapes with the puzzle holes.  (You can also count them as you go.)

Tracing 

 

3.) Last we used the big puzzle pieces to practice tracing shapes with crayons.  The big knobs were very helpful!

I wonder what else we can come up with for our other puzzles!

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ABC Sticky Note Game

My three-year old is working on mastering beginning word sounds.  As his vocabulary and speech improves, he is able to associate more words.  My toddler and his grandpa play a game where they take turns thinking of a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet.  We made up a new game today!

I gave my toddler a sticky note with a letter on it – “A” then “B” and so on.  He took the sticky note and together we looked for things around the house that started with that letter.  Then he “stickied” the object by placing the sticky note on it.  Some objects where a little challenging, such as the cat, but he tried!  This game could be expanded to word ending sounds, middle word sounds, rhyming words or the entire word.  Of course, in the end there are stickies all over the house but that’s ok with me!

Apples (decorative), coconuts (a lamp made out of coconuts), and eggs (hard-boiled)!  Just a few of the beginning sound words that were stickied today!

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Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summers are all about the road trips.  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  

The real question is how to keep the kids busy until we are there, wherever there may be.  Beach?  Grandma’s house?  Camp?  We’re about to finish up our adventure in Washington, D.C.  Then we are off to the beach in a few weeks.  In the fall, we’re visiting St. Louis.  Whew!  I don’t even like to travel!  How is it that I travel more with children then I ever did before they were born?

Since I try to minimize screen time, I was very excited about this little find at the library – Playaway.  You can rent these all-in-one recorded book devices at the library or buy them online (playaway.com or Amazon).  The handheld devices are light and easy for my toddler to start and stop.  One device usually has one recorded book but some have a collection of short books.  You can get all types of books – children’s, young adult, classics.

My toddler has been enjoying listening to books via Playaway in the car and it’s a great activity for a long car trip.  Since your child uses headphones to listen, that means you don’t have to listen.  Sometimes I like to listen to music and stories with my child but sometimes mommy needs quiet time!  My favorite part is hearing my toddler burst out laughing in a seemingly random way when everything and everyone else is quiet.  It’s almost as good as hearing him talk to himself.  You could give your child an actual book to hold while they listen or just let them listen without any visuals.  Either way is fun.

What are some interesting ways to keep kids busy in the car?  Have any long car trips planned for this summer?

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Montessori Trays: Why they work

What’s up with the trays?  The first thing you will probably notice about a Montessori-inspired home or Montessori classroom is the TRAYS.  In our home, I use whatever is available – wooden trays, wooden bowls, woven baskets, plastics serving dishes, etc – usually picked up at a consignment shop like Goodwill.

I didn’t really understand the purpose of the trays until my three-year old had friends over who pulled everything off our shelves and threw things on the floor.  We actually didn’t mind but Boaz busily put everything back into their correct places.  Order and placement is ingrained into his habits and nature.

His learning experience begins when he enters the room.  How are things organized?  How are they grouped together?  The next challenge – can he pick up the tray with the activity and carry to his table or the floor to play?  This requires balance, coordination, and focus.  When he’s done, can he put it back without dropping it before getting a new activity?  Again – focus, attention, patience.

Don’t give up before they start!  At first, they may throw things on the floor.  After awhile they understand the process.  And this process – organizing toys and activities on shelves with trays or other containers – makes clean up quicker!  It also promotes continual learning development from the minute they enter the room.  That’s why we love Montessori trays!

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Interesting Articles on Parenting

Are you a free-range or helicopter parent?  How do you create a play space for your neighborhood?

I read two interesting articles on parenting this week.

1.) The first one, “What does it mean to be a good parent?“, addresses the issue of providing opportunities for your child’s independence without alerting the authorities.  Seriously – it happens.  What are the benefits of providing independence, such as walking to school alone?  Are our ideas of danger over-exaggerated?  Is it right to judge other parents and their parenting styles?  When is it okay to intervene?

I was also very interested in the shorter article joined with it entitled “How to create play spaces.”  This talks about creating a safe, playful community with play spaces – not just playgrounds – in your backyard.  Very cool examples and video!

2.) The second article, “The Overbooked Generation“, questions whether families are overburdened with extracurricular activities.  I can answer that.  Yes, we are.  But is that okay?  What are the benefits and the alternatives?  Is your (meaning your kids’) schedule out of control?  Is that how you like it?

Read any other good articles this week that you want to share?