Friday, August 30, 2013

Goldilocks and Three Bears for Toddlers


I am very grateful to Camilla for the excuse for playing princesses and fairytales again. These are the most relaxing and enjoyable activities! For her first real fairy tale I chose Goldilocks and the three bears. This fairytale has repetitions (which are easy for understanding the whole story) and vocabulary used every day (which she's already learned or needs to learn ASAP).

First, we had to choose a book. There are many different versions and levels of difficulty for this book.  After looking around, I chose "The Three Bears" by Paul Galdone. This is an older version with great illustrations: all are very realistic, but not too scary; simple and humorous at the same time. I also liked that Goldilocks is wearing her classic blue dress.

The Three Bears
Besides the great vocabulary, this book is a wonderful opportunity for sorting by size and counting. And that's why it takes some preparation before the play. If we want to count to 3, we need the 3 of everything important at the house: 3 bowls and spoons, 3 beds and bedding sets, and of course, the 3 bears of different sizes, 3 chairs.

DIY bed for a doll or a bear

To make a bed, I cut a portion of the box. I've decided to use the leftover wall paper to cover the box. It supposed to be quick and easy since the wallpaper is prepasted. Unfortunately, it didn't work that way: the box absorbed all the moisture from the paper too fast. I had to use the glue: the cheapest school glue worked just fine. I had to use the glue (sometimes even on both surfaces) to make sure it would stay put.

After the boxes dried, I cut the head board and the foot board of the bed to the pattern on my wall paper. If I'd have a little more time, there are many ways to improve them: use decorative duct tape around the edges and corners, use wall paper with different patterns, cut patterns inside the walls with a pincher. This is a cool activity to use imagination which is totally worse it: the beds can be used forever since they are steady and the wallpaper can be washed with soap and water.

I am planning to buy the door nobs to make the legs for beds and to make good, realistic-looking mattresses and pillows. How can I find extra time to do all that? - that is always a question.

Sorting, learning opposites, and counting for toddlers

There are 3 sizes in the book: big, middle-sized, and little (that one is "just right" - Camilla's favorite already - LOL). She started to pick up big and little, hot and cold, hard and soft, high and low. For sorting, we tried to put a correct spoon in each bowl, a bear in each bed, a bear or Goldilocks into the smallest chair. And we counted to three again and again. She loves counting!

Goldilocks - playing with a toddler

It is so cute to watch the beginnings of pretend play in her. She fed the doll and the bears, put them to sleep, woke them up, tried to talk to them. These were all so cute!

In our local library there are 2 old rocking chairs donated for kids' play. She loves to sit in each of them every time she sees them now. For the big chair is "too big" and the little chair is "just right". We are both enjoying this fairy tale. I am thinking that we need to share the joy with friends and make a play date out of this. I am considering the theme for a birthday party since it's her favorite now. We'll see...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rakhi/ Friendship Band Activity


I am in love with this tradition from India. A little knot with big values - that's how I would describe Rakhi. I didn't know about this before. It is always so exciting to learn something new about a different culture. Even though the play date we had was for the little ones (of course, :) ), I thoroughly enjoyed it (maybe even more than Camilla).

So, for those who, like me, don't know about this festival: A person buys or makes a bracelet and gives it to his loved-one as a warm thought straight from the heart. The original Rakhi is red and gold. It is given by a sister to her brother and symbolizes the love and respect. In return, a brother promises to always support and protect his sister.  By following this ritual every year, brothers and sisters are able to keep and cherish their special bond.

I love it! My brother lives far away. He is always very busy with his job and his family, barely finding time to talk to me. That's it: I need to send him a bracelet!

Our toddlers watched a Sesame Street episode about Rakhi. The old tradition is getting a new meaning. Not only sisters give their brothers bracelets, but everyone can give it to a loved one. A nice way to say that you are glad this person is around.


Friendship Band Activity

We had to get ready for this play date beforehand. I bought different kinds of beads, but tried to choose the ones with bigger, 4-5 mm whole. Camilla was mesmerized by the view of different colorful beads when she saw them for the first time. I did buy the glass ones and watched her very closely at all times she had access to them!

I thought, the easiest would be to use chenille stems. They were very easy to get the beads on. I had to hold the end of the stem steady for my 21 months old. She learned to get the bead on and move it further along the stem very fast. She really enjoyed the process (but not the end result - that one she could care less). She put the beads on and took them off the stem again and again... until I was tired.

Here is a nice tip we are going to use for our new lacing cards. Make a "needle" from the piece of a chenille stem. Attach the needle to a piece of lace or ribbon for your toddler's beading or lacing activity. These are great activities for fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. 

At the play date, we watched the Sesame Street episode about Rakhi, made bracelets, and had some Indian food. At home, we made a bracelet for Camilla's big brother. I gave her one bead at a time for that one to keep a pattern on the bracelet. We used a metal string with specially made lock that allows you to get the beads through. The drawback: it can be unscrewed easily by accident. If that happens, all the beads would be lost.

 It happened, that she gave her brother a bracelet for his first day of school; together with the tickets for the hockey pre-game that she won for him (that is a completely different story - a cool one - the girl has a lucky hand!). 

Indian dishes

Fruit. They have different kinds of fruit there: tasty and naturally ripped, fresh and sweet.
  • Spices and teas
  • Pineapple and chicken skewers, my favorite dish.  The perfect things used: pineapple, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and chicken. Spices and yogurt for marinade. Oh, so delicious, spicy, and sweet, and hearty, and yummy... I need to learn how to make it. Anybody has a good recipe?
  • Mango Lassi. It needs a good, ripped mango! I'd love to know where one can find it here in this country. Blend it in a blender together with some yogurt or buttermilk, ice cubes and ice water, if desired. Again, the key is a perfect mango which I couldn't find, bummer.
  • Indian Trail Mix from Whole Foods, kids' favorite!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Treasure Box - 2 Years Old

Treasure hunt for 2 year olds.

My Mom is visiting now. She is going home this week and will be able to take a present with her for my 2 and a half year old niece. So I've decided to make a surprise treasure box for her. I am not sure how my SIL will take it. I've bought this pretty metal box in Michaels - hence an idea of a creative summer treasure box.
present 2 year old
I started filling it with stickers, goggle eyes, and a pony mirror.
open play for toddlers

My niece loves crafts. I tried to fill the box with colors and textures.
craft supplies

Sensory play

There are a couple of surprise small toys, a light, a tiny car, crayons, markers, beads, card stock of different colors and shapes, giant buttons, playdoh, foam shapes, wooden sticks... Should be plenty of things for the open play and creativity.

I decorated all that with confetti and a flower. Isn't it interesting to dig in and discover?
And finally, I covered all the treasures with the feathers. The real treasures are always hidden which makes it more fun to explore and find it (I guess, :) :) :) ).

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Curiosity: Toddler

Adults and Toddlers: two different agendas

Camilla and I are on two different schedules throughout the day. I've recently realized  that is our main reason for arguing. I plan and organize the day to be able to manage all the things that has to be done. I try to push the agenda to make it done, and done quickly to free the time to spend with her. She has something completely different on her mind. She doesn't care about past or future. All she cares about is the present moment: all the exciting, new, and very interesting this second and this spot of the planet. I thought about it - it is very simple. It is her excellent toddler curiosity that pushes her to Mommy's keyboard when Mom appears to be so busy typing, and that pulls her to close the drier when Mommy's trying to do the laundry quickly (doesn't matter that the phone rings right now, and that's why I am in a hurry).

Curiosity: The Fuel of Development

I've decided to record some of my baby's discoveries. Have to learn from them how to be mindful and live in the moment, how to be curios about the world around you, notice it and learn from it.

She started singing songs this week (21 months old). They are made up songs with the made up tunes: very pretty. She doesn't like it when I say "sleep" unless she knows it is a game. She would lay down saying "see, see" for "sleep" until we call together, "wake up", when she would jump up and start laughing. Is it so funny that this "sleep" is not for real? She discovered she could make circles with finger paints by touching the paper with her finger tips, and then drew her first real picture: flowers on grass. That was a puzzle for her - has she really made up flowers and grass all by herself? She finally was interested to watch the animals at the zoo. I could imagine there were so many questions to ponder. Are those huge dinosaurs scary or nice? Is the kangaroo not a horse, they looked pretty much alike on the pictures? Why can't I get to the horses on the carousel at once, they are here and I want them? Oh, that long tube slide is fun, why was I scared to go down before?

So many questions every day. How could our little ones make it through every single day just fine? What are your little ones favorite discoveries this week?
brain development toddler

Brain Development

by Dr. Bruce Perry

Curiosity………leads to Exploration
Exploration…..leads to Discovery
Discovery…….leads to Pleasure
Pleasure………leads to Repetition
Repetition…….leads to Mastery
Mastery……….leads to New Skills
New Skills…….lead to Confidence
Confidence…..leads to Self Esteem
Self Esteem….leads to Sense of Security
Security……….leads to More Exploration

Keep their curiosity running. Slow down, live the moment in full, and give them that extra chance to explore. It is so hard sometimes. The other day we were walking down the street and Camilla wanted to explore the puddle she saw. So I thought, "I have to give her a couple of minutes to explore this puddle, it looks shallow and harmless". Of course, Camilla was wearing a white dress at that time. She carefully stepped into the puddle, stood still there looking around, then stomped in it for a while, then suddenly put her hands into the water. I thought if that's all she could do, we still were fine and could make it through the puddle OK. But then she sat down. So much for the beautiful white dress and her newest discovery.