Monday, March 12, 2012

Beautiful Day

It feels like Spring here today so we were outside all morning (since 8AM!!).   We put on the bubble machine, did some sidewalk chalk, O rode every bike/car/scooter/etc that he owns, and then we really started to have fun.

What you need for outside finger painting: a toddler taking his socks off, paper, paint, wet wipes for cleaning and clothes that can get paint on them (it's not quite warm enough to be in just a diaper).  

Getting set up.

Getting down to work.

Oh look!  It's fun to paint the driveway too!

Using nature to help with the artwork.

O knows some sign language and here he's telling me 'more,' which he told me about every 30 seconds.

Have to use feet too of course!

Finished product.

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Adding Challenges to Puzzle Play

We do a lot of puzzle play in our house and if we've gone through our stack of 10 or 12 puzzles more then once in a day the challenge starts to dwindle.   And, over time a child starts to memorize or become so familiar with a puzzle that they are no longer gaining any skills with the puzzle play.  And generally speaking, this is totally fine as repetition and comfortability are also important aspects of play, but if you are looking to further challenge your child or be able to use the same toys for longer periods of time then I have a few suggestions on how to do that.

So, the first thing that I do with O when we're working on the same puzzles for the umpteenth time are to lay out two boards at once.  

This provides an added challenge because there are double the spaces where a piece might go and this requires even more attention to detail (color, shape, size).

The next idea is to lay down the pieces of the puzzle upside down and in a varied order.  This requires the child to pick the piece up without seeing the picture AND they have to manipulate the piece so that it's facing the correct way to fit on the board.  

Adding these challenges to puzzle play helps to build level of concentration and focus, observation and problem solving skills AND you get extended use out of toys that you might have had to put away.

Other suggestions on ways to extend puzzle play:

* language development - label each puzzle piece by name, tell a story with the puzzle pieces
*cognitive - label colors, shapes and sizes, count pieces as they are place on board

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Scooping is a simple yet engaging activity that promotes development in a number of areas.  The act of scooping helps with fine motor development and hand eye coordination.  As your child gets older, using different sized bowls and scoopers can help with math and science skills such as greater than/less than, spatial relations, making observations and predictions.  

The supplies I used included, an old box of brown rice, loaf pan and two sizes of mixing bowls, and a stack of measuring spoons.  

I modeled once for O how to scoop from one bowl to the other and then handed him the spoon.

He also decided he was ready to try pouring :)

We were thoroughly engaged with this activity quite a while and this was just the beginning.  I plan to introduce other items such as smaller and different shaped spoons, little cups, smaller bowls, muffin tins and other materials to scoop such as beans, sand, dirt, and even water.  There are many possibilities on ways to expand on scooping (and dumping!).  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Zucchini Carrot Applesauce Muffins

We made Zucchini Carrot Applesauce Muffins this week.  I had made them for O a few months earlier and he loved them, this time he helped me.

To prep, I measured all ingredients and put them in into containers that would be easy for toddler sized hands to work with.  I also laid everything out in the order in which it was to be added to the mixing bowl so that I didn't have to look back at the recipe.  The more you can have memorized or ready to go without thinking the better when your sous chef is 18 months old.  

Once everything was set, O joined me by sitting on the countertop and he started adding ingredients and mixing like a pro.  

Here is the recipe for our muffins, enjoy!


1/4c. canola oil*

1/2c. brown sugar

1 egg

1c. applesauce

1c. grated carrots

1c. grated zucchinis

1t. baking soda

1 3/4c. whole wheat flour**

1/2t. ground nutmeg

1t. cinnamon

1t. baking powder


    • Preheat oven to 400F
    • In a large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar.
    • Beat in egg, then applesauce.
    • Stir in carrots and zucchini.
    • In another large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
    • Fold dry ingredients into wet, until just mixed.
    • Spoon batter to the very top of sprayed, paper-lined muffin cups and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in a muffin.

    • *next time I'm going to use coconut oil to make them healthier and yummier
    • **original recipe called for equal amounts of white and whole wheat flour