Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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Toddler Activities with Egg Cartons

It is especially fun to create toddler activities with recycled trash!  Cheap, homemade (of sorts) and DIY are some of my favorite descriptions for toddler activities.  So, egg cartons are perfect!  I keep a stack of different kinds of egg cartons in my craft cupboard.  They are great for sorting, counting, and art activities.  They are also great for holding small items and organizing your drawers or cupboards.  Ice cube trays also serve similar purposes.  Here are some basic activities with egg cartons but you can do so much more!  One-to-one correspondence activities such as placing wooden balls, puff balls or wiffle balls in cartons are early math activities.  You can also color code the egg baskets or assign numbers or letters.  You can use them for more complex sorting or use them as paint dishes.  I still remember uses egg cartons when I was in elementary school for painting projects.

Here is B (21 months old) is placing wooden balls in a 6-egg carton.  He did NOT like the activity with puff balls so try different materials and don’t get discouraged.  I usually have to introduce an activity several times before B wants to try it.  We counted each ball as he placed them in the carton.  I’ve seen other people write numbers or letters on the balls and in the cartons for a matching activity.  We’ll build up to that.

 

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is B with a 12-egg carton.  He enjoyed filling it with wiffle balls.  No puff balls, please!  Maybe it’s boy thing?   A major part of the activity is taking the carton off the shelf and putting it back when B is done.  He knows he can’t get something new until he puts everything back.  The practice of moving things on and off the shelf helps with body control.

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some more ideas from other Montessori mamas using egg cartons !

Living Montessori Now  – Color Walk

Our Natural Journey  – Repurposing Egg Cartons

Kindergarten Basics – Upcycle Egg Cartons to Building Blocks + links to many other egg carton ideas!

Gift of Curiosity – Math with Egg Cartons + several other cool Montessori activities

Any other ideas?  How have you used your egg cartons?

We’ll revisit this theme again in the Spring!  Say, around Easter time!  You, me and that crazy Easter bunny.  This will be the first year B really gets to open Christmas presents and will understand the idea of an Easter egg hunt.  Can’t wait!  Have a Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom

 

 

 

 

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Pairing Games for Toddlers

B has mastered several activities recently that have been challenging for months!  I’m excited for him but now I need to find more activities.  I introduced matching so that we could then work on sorting, which is a precursor to math.  A good icebreaker was sorting my shoes.  B loves my shoes!  He tries them all on, even my high heels.  One day I decided to mix them all up and have B pair them together.  He did not really get the concept at first but he liked the game.  A few weeks later I introduced an activity from a Busy Bag swap.  One mom had made pairing coins.  She cut and glued felt designs on wood pieces.  I brought them out several times but B did not seem interested so I put them away.  When I brought them out recently, he paired the designs together perfectly.  He went from seemingly uninterested to mastery!  It just shows how some toddlers learn – B absorbs information through observation until he feels confident in attempting the activity.  I’ve noticed his learning style in music class as well.  He observes quietly during class and then waits to practice clapping or signing or dancing when we are at home.

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I made another matching game based on B’s interest in transportation.  The First 100 Machines has always been a favorite book.  I made two copies of the front cover and laminated the copies.  I cut one of the pages up so that he could place the matching vehicles on the laminated page.  B really liked this game and had fun playing with Daddy.  I’m planning on trying this idea with other books.

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We are busy gearing up for the holidays!  B thinks it’s funny when I see “Jingle Bells” but otherwise does not seem to notice the holiday changes.  Amazingly, he has left the tree and the presents alone.  I’m sure next year will be different.  🙂

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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 Meetup.com 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: 
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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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Montessori At Home: Toddler Activities

I’m slowly incorporating Montessori into our home!  It’s sort of addicting!  It’s so much fun that I’m almost obsessed with finding more activities.  There are moms out there doing some pretty cool things with their kids.  You can find neat DIY ideas on Pinterest, YouTube and WordPress – pretty much everywhere.  Moms love to share ideas :).  Here are just a few of my recent favorites: Racheous, JadyMahoganyHomemakerPinterest searches.  So, what are we up to?  This past week has been an explosion of words.  Baby B is 16 months old and this week I have really started to hear a few words clearly.  This week I heard “water”, “itchy”, “out”, “kitty”, “doggie”, “daddy”, “mama” and “moo”.  Everything before sounded like “dadadada”.  He could identify lots of things but I think now he’s getting the hang of language.  I think using sign language helped but that’s another topic.

LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES

Since Baby B is working on words, I created a word display and a word basket.  All things I’ve seen other at-home Montessori moms doing.  Very cool.  I made a place that he could easily see while playing and displayed the word “cow“.  He says “moo” for cow.  After I made the display, we went over it together.  1.) I had the word written out on a dry erase board.  2.) I spelled out cow with magnets.  3.) I put up a picture of a cow.  4.) I displayed a plastic toy cow.  5.)  I let our dog stand in the picture because he looks like a small, baby cow (seriously).  Baby B loved it!  Later when we were talking about a cow he ran over to the display and yelled “moo!”  We are still working on saying cow but that will come.  As long as he loves learning, I’m in!  I also created a word basket (sorry no picture).  I put a few objects in the basket that were common and around the house.  I used a cup, ball, rock and small foam bird.  We sat on a pillow and I showed him each object while I said the word slowly.  He played with them and put them in his mouth.  Then I asked him to find each object I named and hand it to me.  Good time to practice please and thank you.  As you can see, the game can be expanded very easily.  You could talk about colors, numbers, stories and matching.  There are many possibilities.

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SENSORIAL ACTIVITIES:

We are experimenting with homemade play dough this week.  I made a batch of whole wheat play dough.  The recipe was from Elizabeth G. Hainstock’s “Teaching Montessori in the Home.”  That book has lots of great activity ideas.  I borrowed it from the library along with “Teach Me To Do It Myself” by Maja Pitamic.

Play Dough (Clay) pg 84

3 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water (with coloring), and 1 T oil

I used whole wheat flour and it turn out fine.  Baby B liked to smash it and pull it apart.  I gave him a small, wooden hammer to pound it.  We also practiced pounding with our hands.  I rolled it into long snake-like strips and let him practice cutting with a toddler knife.  Today I saw him cutting his dinner food so I think it helped!  We also did finger painting with Veggie Baby Finger Paint by Wee Can Too.  I bought this at The Baby Grocery Store along with several healthy snacks.  He loved finger painting and stayed at it much longer than he does with crayons.  He didn’t even try and eat it!  Amazing.  🙂

Play Dough