I have been collecting activity ideas for toddlers. Some require more preparation than others, but some are extremely simple and use only basic household items that you more than likely have lying around. For many of these activities, it helps to talk about what you are doing with your child - teaching them colours, shapes and directions. This list is not overly long at the moment, but I am continuously adding to it. Have Fun, and I'd love to hear some ideas from you, or feedback on some of these ideas if you've tried them!
A few days ago I commented on the fact that I had lost my camera, after spending a great day taking pictures of Clara's finger painting day a couple of weeks ago. i would like to note that although I had assumed without thinking that it had been MY slip-up, that I had lost the camera because I am that flighty - the camera was found in my husband's messenger bag, the one he brings to work. :)
Anyway, here is our finger painting day!
I don't actually remember the exact recipe I used for this, but the ones I found online were almost all the same:
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups cold water
- food colouring
In a medium pan, mix all the ingredients together to make the finger paint. Cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring the finger paint mixture until it is smooth and thick. After the finger paint has thickened take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool.
After cooling, divide the finger paint into storage containers depending on how many colors you would like. Add a few drops of food coloring to each container.
Stir the coloring in to the paint to determine the shade of color. You're ready to finger paint! Cover tightly when storing.
I should note that although the consistency of the finger paint was really nice when I had poured it into these jars, after it had cooled it had thickened quite a bit. I don't know if I added to much corn starch (I'm not a very precise measurer) or if I let it cook too long. Either way, I'll aim for runnier next time!
When it was ready, we headed out to the deck where Clara could feel free to get messy!
Here, it looks like she's trying to conduct the finger paint...
She got a bit more into it, but it always seems to stress her out when her hands aren't clean. My little priss.
While we were outside, I gave her two different sheets of paper. I helped a bit, just to smooth out some of the bigger globs that she had ignored at the end of each 'session'. Call it artistic license, but there was no way these pictures would fit into any type of frame with the kind of globs she left behind, so I smoothed them for her.
Then I hung them on the wall of our deck to dry. This one was my favourite, I think. Unfortunately because the paint was so thick, despite my efforts to keep it as smooth and thin as possible, it still gathered and cracked, so the pictures aren't frame-able after all. I'll try again, though, because I love what they ended up looking like!
Yesterday morning, I made play-dough for Celia for the first time. I found this recipe online...
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 cup salt
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)
- Food colouring
Add all ingredients except food colouring to a pot, mix together and continue stirring over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. I found that the mixture stayed the same for awhile - I eventually turned up the heat slightly which sped up the process. Once it started to thicken, I found it thickened quite quickly.
When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, as shown below, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle. There was a note in the recipe that said if the dough was still sticky, it needed to cook more.
Then, I took a ball of it and mixed in some liquid food colouring by hand. I have no pictures of this, because my hands were covered in food colouring!
So, initially I put a clump in front of Celia and gave her a plastic knife to play with and demonstrated how you could cut and make patterns in the dough. She then asked for a spoon, so I brought her a plastic fork and spoon, thinking she could have fun with those also. Evidently I didn't catch on that because she was strapped into her booster seat in her usual eating-spot, she assumed this purple goo in front of her was food. I clearly told her not to eat it, and I know she understands those words, but when she took a bit on her fork and started bringing it toward her face, I decided to let her find out for herself what it tasted like.
She put it in her mouth, made the most hilarious 'this is disgusting' face, and said 'Mmmm!' as if indulging me or attempting to be polite despite the awful taste. I put my hand below her chin and told her to feel free to spit it out - she did, eventually, but not before she had tried to enjoy it. Valiant effort.
Since she was clearly unsure that it was not food, I played with it for awhile 'with' her, demonstrating how to make a little bowl, a banana, a cake and then chopping it into pieces (maybe I should stop with the food references, way to be confusing). "Don't eat it! But LOOK! It's a BANANA!"
She is probably too young yet to really 'get' it. I finally balled it up and handed it to her, saying 'Look! A Ball!'. She loved this! Lately she's been quite obsessed with anything spherical - my geeky husband and I who have no knowledge of or experience with sports whatsoever are terrified we are seeing a soccer-kid in the making - and when the playdough was shaped like her favourite toy, she was thrilled.
She grew tired of it quickly even still - too young, me thinks? and it was soon bedtime. I lumped the three balls of playdough into a margarine container and into the fridge they went. I'm sure we'll see them again this rainy week.
Finally one day this weekend, my husband went on an obsessive search for our camera. In the meantime, I started learning how to use his DSLR, and I'll post some pictures from that soon, but it was really sad not to have our little Canon to bring along when we left the house, etc.
After searching in all of the obvious places, and some of the less-obvious places, as well as cleaning out the car and a few other places in the meantime :), we sat down together and tried to brainstorm. As we sat in the kitchen, I glanced over at the microwave stand and asked 'Have you looked under there?'. Brian peeked underneath, and exclaimed 'THERE it is!!!'.
We need to find a place for it that Celia can't reach...
Unfortunately not many pictures had been taken since the last time I'd uploaded to my computer, but there were a few recent ones that I'd forgotten about.
They were of Celia sitting at her high chair with a few globs of yogurt 'finger paint' in front of her. This prompted me to look at the pictures of previous 'finger painting' times, to compare...
Back in August of 2011 - Celia was 8 months old...
Extremely focused on her work...
Then we tried it again in October of 2011... When she was 10 months old...
She was a little less into painting, and a little more into eating...
And then again at the end of February, 2012... She is 14.5 months old.
Seriously, Mom, just give me a spoon... yogurt is for eating!
I'm afraid to try with real finger paint at any time... she'll just eat it!
As I was planning my daughter's first birthday party, which we held last week, I called and asked a friend (who has five children) what she did. She kind of laughed and said that it wasn't really for the kids anyway, so just to invite my friends! It was a little late for that, and we have the added complication of having about a million family members who live close by...
The original guest list was 75... so I cut that down to only the family members who would be ABSOLUTELY offended if they weren't invited, and the friends of Celia's who actually played with her on a regular basis. This cut down the list to about 60. So, we divided that approximately in half and invited all of the friends to an afternoon party, and all of the family to an evening party...
Note to self - A Pinata for a 1-year-old is a bit much...
When I was a child, I never had a pinata for my birthday - or for any reason - so when we were walking through the Bulk Barn and Celia noticed the brightly coloured pinatas lining the tops of the shelves, I thought it would be fun to have one for her. All of the families that were invited had multiple children, and all of them were older than Celia - up to about 6 years old, so I thought they would love it! (I think they did, actually, but unfortunately Celia didn't).
She liked the cupcakes, though!
I'm a pretty meticulous cookie decorator, so I had a bit of difficulty deciding what kind of cookies Celia should decorate - because of course, I still wanted them to look good :) Snowflakes have to have a snowflake pattern - really, they HAVE TO! And if you just smeared icing all over a gingerbread man, snowman, santa or any other living thing it might just look dead... And candy canes have to have stripes...
So, what can look blotchy and multicolored and still be potentially accurate...?
Looking through my cookie cutters, I found a mitten! So I iced them initially with white icing and let that dry. Then, I gave Celia a paint brush and a little pot of blue icing, and this is sort of how it went.
Using skills developed on the Buddha Board...
She usually hit the cookies. Sometimes her mouth...
She even knew how to dip the brush to get more icing!
Obviously my daughter is a genius ;P
I forgot to take pictures of the finished cookies and now they're buried in the deep freeze. We did this with blue, pink and purple icing, letting each layer dry in between. Ok, I did some of them myself - she got pretty tired after awhile, and after she discovered how yummy icing was it was hard to keep the brush out of her mouth.
I think we will make 'Celia's Mittens' an annual tradition.
Here is a picture of the finished product - they were in the freezer for awhile, so they look a little more blotchy than they did at first. I forgot to take pictures of painting the pink or purple icing.
I have one of those 'Buddha Boards' - for those of you who are unfamiliar with these, they are a lightly colored sort of 'slate' on a tray that you fill with water. There is a brush that you use to brush the water onto the slate, and where the water touches, it turns black. Kind of like a Zen Garden, it's one of those things intended to be 'fiddled' with to keep you occupied. My piano students often play with it when they're waiting for their lessons...
Anyway, one day I look over and see Celia concentrating intently on the board.
And I don't know if this is normal 11 month old behavior or not, but she knew how to do it! She dipped the brush in the tray of water, and then painted with it.
I was quite impressed.
Every year I try to make a point of raking all of the leaves in our yard into a maze. When I was a teenager, I babysat for a family that did this every year with their kids and I enjoyed doing this with them and still enjoy it now! My little sister came over and after the maze was finished, we took turns changing it and then trying to get through it again.
These are my cat's glowing eyes watching us through the front door...
Then we had to make a leaf pile...
And play in it...
It was a fun day, and it's exciting for me to finally have a child to do stuff like this with!
I have a friend who is always doing things with her kids that look incredibly fun - and typically way younger than I would have thought of doing them. Like when she had her 18 month old decorating cookies at Christmas time... I can't wait for that!
Anyway, I asked her if she had any ideas for Celia at 9 months, and she suggested finger painting with dyed yogurt. So here we are! At first we plopped three different colours in front of her on her high chair tray, and she poked a finger into one but it took her a little while to really get into it. After a few minutes, however, my crazy little monster started shrieking and going at it like a regular Jackson Pollock.
We were just hanging out in the kitchen otherwise, and my poor husband got so stressed by the mess she made. He kept commenting on how he would never have done anything like this with her - and it's a good thing he wasn't a single Dad, because she would never be able to do something like this! It really was a mess - there was yogurt all over the floor and splattered on the wall behind her.
I promised him I would clean everything up - and I did, except for the odd splatter that I missed and found days later. Celia was in only a diaper, so no clothing needed to be cleaned, and the high chair was completely washable - the fabric cover was washed overnight and ready the next morning.
We've done this once since (it really is quite a bit of work when house cleaning is a near-impossible task anyway), and although she still enjoyed it, we might not do it again until she understands the concept. At 10 months old, she knew that yogurt was food and seemed to be more frustrated with how difficult it was to eat than she was interested in playing with it.
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