Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog

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Toddler (Spring) Fever

Springtime is like a toddler.  One moment a lamb and the next moment a lion.  Quick to change, a whirlwind of activity, excited about everything, and ready to begin again and again and again.  My toddler is about to turn 3 and just like the 2 year old lion we met at the zoo – he’s found his roar!  (Lions develop their roaring capability after they turn two.)  Just like I’ve completely given up on the weatherman (because who can blame him, the weather changes every second in the spring – rain one minute, sun the next, 70 degrees back to 50 degrees in a day), I have given up predicting my toddler.  My 3 1/2 month old is more predictable!  I DO know that summer will arrive eventually.

This past week I retreated to my parents house at the beach for a respite (or as close as I’ll ever get!).  My husband is away traveling and in addition to that disruption we have dealt with stomach bugs, sore throats (me), runny noses, temper tantrums, and the usual travel conditions – new routines, new foods, new places, new temper tantrums (did I mention that already?).  When I think about all we’ve done, it seems that my toddler has weathered the storm quite heroically.  Through it all I have continued a learn-on-the-go, Montessori-inspired, education philosophy.  The beach is one HUGE sensorial bin.  I have “followed the child” down the beach for an aimless, toddler walk.  We have discovered nature at the zoo and listened to grandparents reading stories.

So, my question…how do you keep education rolling along when everything else is constantly changing?  School work during trips?  At the grandparent’s house?  At the beach?  On springbreak?

Pictures from our trip to Nana’s and Papa’s at the beach…

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Hanging Ball Toddler Activity

Yesterday, a no-school, ice/snow day, called for some new activities.  After a long time playing outside and then with kinetic sand, we needed something new!  I started flipping through some toddler books and found this hanging ball activity.  It was a HIT!  (hahaha)  We hung a ball with string from the center of a door way.  My toddler (almost 3 years) had fun trying to hit it with a stick (or bat).  He also liked to throw it and catch it as it swung back.  My husband and dad took turns “pitching” it to him. A lap around the kitchen for a home run!  This is great hand/eye coordination activity.  Simple, cheap – my favorite kind!



Frying Pan Artwork

B (now about 2 1/2 years old) likes to paint THINGS.  He’s not so much into just painting on a piece of paper, although he will.  He is VERY motivated to paint something, such as a wooden airplane or a pumpkin.  In this project we painted wooden balls (it’s what we had available).  Knowing that the balls would roll away, I put them in an old, lightweight frying pan.  B had fun using his paintbrush and turning the pan to get paint all over the wooden balls.  Then I added some cut out paper shapes on the bottom of the pan.  SIMPLE, EASY, FUN!

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Easy Busy Toddler Activities – Egg/Spoon Races, Moving Marbles and Sifting Flour

Grab a spoon and go!  I love our new game of racing plastic eggs on large kitchen spoons.  B yells, “RACE!”  And B can’t get enough of transferring marbles with the wooden, toaster tongs.  I keep watching him to see why he likes it so much.  Maybe it’s the shape and color of the marbles.  We have also been working on cracking eggs this week.  B LOVED cracking the eggs into a bowl and wanted to practice on all the eggs.  I had to explain why we needed to save some – it’s always for Daddy or Papa.  He’s okay with saving some for them.  Earlier in the week we sifted flour.  This activity keeps him busy for a very long time and he becomes completely engrossed (also covered with flour).  Also, B enjoys pictures of himself that I post on the refrigerator.  He likes to take them down and talk about them (himself).  These were the top hits for this week and they were super easy!  What are your kids playing with this week?

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Field Trip to the Nature Center

Ready to explore nature this spring!  Last week, B and I took a field trip to the Charlotte Nature Center near Freedom Park.  B is turning 2 this week and the Nature Center was a perfect outing for him.  It was not too big and overwhelming but there was also plenty of activities.  B liked the butterfly room, the giant insect head and the indoor slide.  The outside play area was very cool.  There were wheelbarrows, logs, tents, instruments, fountains, and sand.  Everything a child could want.  There were imagination, creative, and construction activities covering a wide range of ages and learning styles.  There were also plenty of chairs for parents to sit on and relax.  Before heading out, we enjoyed a snack on the big, wooden deck behind the Nature Center, which is surrounded by large trees and the sounds of nature.  Can’t wait to go back soon!

What are your favorite ways to explore nature with your child(ren)?  Hikes?  Trails?  Biking?  It’s never to early to start!

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Toddler Activities: Busy Bag Ideas

I was very excited to have a second Busy Bag exchange with a group of awesome moms.  I am part of a mom group through and one of the organizers in the group hosted a Busy Bag Swap party, the second one of the year.  These parties are great!  Each mom picks a simple craft activity and makes one for each mom attending the party.  At the party, each mom shares their toddler craft.  So you go with let’s say 12 Button Snakes and you leave with 12 different activities!  How cool is that!  I have slowly been pulling out the activities and adding them to our Montessori shelf.  I like that these activities were educational, simple to make and cheap.  I made the Button Snake and was excited to discover I had most of the material already.  I recommend having a Busy Bag swap with your friends!

A few of the Busy Bag activities: 














Here are links to several of the activities we received at the Busy Bag party:

Money Saving MomButton Snake

Some What Simple – Wacky Sacks 

The Rigneys – Felt Board and several other ideas!

Intrepid Murmurings – Pasta Sorting

Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers – Texture Boards 

Playful Learning – Chalk Blocks

Wise Bread – Moon Sand

Here are some other Montessori activities we have on our shelf this week, including a holiday activity.  On the top shelf we have two small puzzles, an empty feta cheese container filled with puff balls, a plastic dish filled with holiday mini-clothes pins, several heart shaped cookie cutters, and a block of flower arrangement foam with golf tees and a hammer to stick in the foam.  On the second shelf we have a basket of large foam letters, an old chai container with a hole on top for sticking in q-tips, more puff balls to place in a water color tray, and an empty Odwalla jug with red popsicle sticks to be placed inside.  The bottom shelf has art (a fireman to color), a shape sorting box (Ikea), and blocks.  Whew!

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I enjoy doing shelf work with B.  We sit together on the rug and talk about the activities.  He is very careful to take work down and put it back.  B is 20 months and often does not want to do what I think he should do with the activity – or at least what I had planned.  It’s tough to keep my mouth shut!  I show him the activity and then try and keep quiet.  I try and let him play and explore the material however he wants.  This is as much a learning process for me as for him!  I can NEVER guess what he will find interesting.  That’s also what makes it interesting and challenging for me!

Another favorite activity these days is taking pictures and videos so that B can see himself.  He laughs at himself and asks to see pictures of Nana and Papa (Grandma and Grandpa) on the phone!

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