Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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…


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.


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



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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Easy to Make Tree Bird Treats

Need a fun fall (really anytime) activity for all ages (my toddler thought it was fun)?  Try making these Tree Bird Treat with your kids!

1.) Collect some bread – maybe some that is drying out and old

2.) Pick a cookie cutter shape and cut a few shapes out of the bread

3.) Poke a hole in the top for the ribbon or string to hang on a tree

4.) Dip the shapes in egg white and then bird seed

5.) Press extra bird seed down on the bread (lots will fall off)

6.) Leave the seeded shapes to dry

7.) When dry, slip a ribbon or string through the hole to hang on your tree (or other locations)

8.) Watch for birds!  It goes fast! 

Enjoying any other crafty activities this week?  I’d love to hear about them!  Please feel free to add a favorite link in the comment section.


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Montessori Toddler Activities

Here are some Montessori-inspired toddler activities that we are enjoying this week.  The activities including a focus on math, sorting (early math), art mixed with language, music, practical life and more specific language activities.  We are working on letter recognition and phonics.  And we are working on number recognition 1-5 and the basic concept of numbers.  Sometimes B (22 months) will seem to understand numbers and sometimes he won’t.  If he isn’t “into it” on any given day, I just move on.  B loves transportation and construction vehicles, so I integrated that into our art and language activities.

Here is a snapshot of our playroom and shelf this week.  Below are a few of the activities.

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Here is a number activity.  We enjoy placing the numbers 1-5 on our felt board and in the bathtub with foam numbers.  Here I chose to highlight the number “4”.  This tray has several different ways of showing the number “4”.  B loves the counting lizards from Melissa & Doug.










Here is a basic sorting activity.  I am always so pleased with myself when I find a new way to display a sorting activity.  I found this little art bucket in Target.  It’s light and easy for B to carry.  Here he will place the blue popsicle sticks on one side and the yellow sticks on the other.  He loves it!








Here is an art activity.  I added a small printout of transportation pictures.  I actually snagged this from Chik-fil-a!  It’s an eye-spy road game that came in his kids’ meal.  B enjoyed coloring the pictures as we talked about them and then we put down transportation stickers.







Here is a language activity of sorts.  It’s more about vocabulary than learning to read.  They are sort of conversation starters and from there we talk about other things relating to the cow and butterfly, like where we saw a cow or butterfly and what they eat and the sounds they make.








This last activity is simply a music basket.  I usually have a basket of musical instruments out for B to play with.  I rotate the instruments almost every week.  I swear I find my husband playing with them more than B, so I guess it’s for the whole family.  We go to a toddler music class once a week too, which is fun.  B is one of the first toddlers to jump up and put things away.  Otherwise, he’s shy and quiet (like mom).  The teacher noted the Montessori approach they use to set up and clean up!  She noted last week that the class had “normalized” meaning that they had mastered the concept of taking instruments out of the basket and returning them (without a fuss) at the end of a song.  Montessori is everywhere!









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Spinach and Butternut Squash Enchiladas!

I’m very excited to share my friend’s recipe for Spinach and Butternut Squash Enchiladas!  This mama is an amazing cook, so check out her blog Stupendous Strouts.  She’s especially great at baking and designing very cool birthday cakes.  She also has gluten free recipes like one for Chocolate Chip cookies.  In addition to cooking, she’s also very crafty!  I love her Letters craft with bright, colorful buttons.  I’m not sure how this mother of three gets it all done but I’m looking forward to seeing what she’ll make next!  🙂

Stupendous Strouts:

Stupendous Strouts

Stupendous Strouts Craft


Classic Fall Favorites

Baby B reading








Baby Bear reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle!

What do you like best about fall?  The colors, the crisp, the change?  It’s a time to get creative.  The cool air brings on creativity.  And cravings for pumpkin spice lattes.  I don’t get it but I go with it!  Here are some of my fall favorites.  What are yours?  Do you get in the mood to cook or decorate a fall wreath?  Maybe you have the urge to read a new book or try running in a 5k race.  I’m curious how fall or the change of seasons affects people.  Although I get pretty excited about fall, in the back of my mind is the lurking, shadow of an idea that WINTER is coming.  And I don’t like winter.  Well, I get tired of it after two weeks.  But I love fall none the less.  I remember when I was young, summer and winter (really Christmas time) were my favorite seasons.  My mother preferred spring and fall.  Now I get it!  We’ll combat winter blues later, let’s enjoy the FALL!


Veggie chili in the crock pot and healthy too!

Betty Crocker apple crisp because it’s the easiest version I’ve found!


Check out this blog all about wreaths!


I’m making this button snake from Money Saving Mom for a busy bag swap next week!  Here’s another example from Activity Mom!

Also, love these free printables from Making Learning Fun about The Very Hungry Caterpillar – one by Baby B’s favorite books!  In the picture above, he’s ogling the food.  We like to count the food and find the caterpillar on each page.  During snack, we put Cheerios on the caterpillar printout and count out loud.






Montessori in the Home – Toddler Activities 18 months

I have been working on our Montessori playroom for MONTHS!  I did the bedroom first but the downstairs area took awhile.  It took time finding a shelf and desk.  I finally bought the shelf at  I found the Ikea desk and chairs at a consignment sale.  We have been doing activities off the shelf every day now!  Baby B (18 months) loves it and it is so easy to keep neat and clean.  All other activities and toys are stored away and rotated during the night when he’s sleeping.  On the shelf we currently have: a velcro bag filled with ping pong balls, a tray of wooden leaves and small pumpkins, two bottles that are filled with lava lamp oil and have sparkles and beads inside (sealed closed), a small etchy sketchy, a 1/2 size egg carton filled with pom poms, a puzzle, a wooden airplane, a tray with paper and a crayon, a stack of plastic cups, and a basket with colored pipe cleaners (he stick them through the holes).  I also put out a felt board with three fish and the numbers “1” “2” and “3”.  Another favorite is the clean-up basket where I keep a small broom, cloths, sponge, and spray bottle with water.  We practice cleaning up together after he eats at his table, although the dogs get most of it.  He also enjoys his new (used) rocker set up next to his basket of books.  He immediately grabbed a book and started reading while he rocked (it lasted about 2 minutes – but that’s okay!).  We have been working on eating at the small table while fully set.  Usually everything goes okay although it’s messy.  He loves to practice cutting and using the spoon and fork.  The dogs get their fair share of the meal, which they worked very hard for.  Now we just need to tackle potty training!  We just started this week 🙂

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