I think all of us are could benefit from getting more veggies in our diets. Yes, even you, T-Rexes. Lots of people have to find ways to “trick” their kids into eating vegetables, which I’m totally on board with. Trick your kids as long as you can get away with it! Personally, I end up having to trick myself into eating more veggies, not because I don’t like them, but because I just kind of forget there are foods other than coffee and cheese.
The other day, we were all hungry, I had too much produce in the house, and the 3 year old needed an activity. I stood him on a chair in the kitchen to help me make silly faces for lunch. I saw this in one of his Elmo books, so it’s clearly a good idea.
I cut up cheese for teeth, cucumbers and tomatoes for eyes, and used cucumber and carrot peels for hair. You can use whatever you have in the house. And let the kid be creative! Don’t get hung up on it being a face, necessarily. I’m here to tell you, LOTS of those pictures on pinterest are plain old lies. No, random blogger, I don’t believe your 18 month old perfectly decorated that Christmas tree craft you’re guilting me into doing. So here’s what my 3 year old made:
See? Perfect three year old artwork. And he ate ALL OF IT, which was the important part. I made this one for myself, and it’s far more terrifying:
I’m not sure why it came out like a nightmare clown, but whatever, it still tasted good.
Some ingredient ideas:
Rinsed, canned beans
Spinach or salad for hair
Whatever needs to get used up in the fridge
This was a fun way to “cook” with my kiddo, let him do something creative, and get all of us fed at the same time. So clean out the produce drawer and have at it!
My son tends to not want to color much himself. It got better when we moved from crayons to markers, but he still mostly wants to direct me or Hubby, and tell us what to draw. I don’t know if he gets frustrated, or is unhappy with his results, but we keep trying to get him more involved.
Around Christmas I was digging through stuff (endless amounts of stuff everywhere, always), and I found an old bingo stamp! I figured I’d see if he liked it. I started with a drawing of a Christmas tree for him to decorate, and that was a hit. Then I drew a house, which was okay, then he requested a dinosaur. That was super popular as well. Keep in mind, I think these things are permanent, so take mess precautions, and DO NOT leave those things where a kid can reach.
I did these around Christmas, but since it’s now summer time, I figured I’d make some basic free printables for anyone who wants them. If you’re reading this around winter, I have some done for that also. These are super basic, just to give you a jumping off point. The dots one can be used for pompom sorting as well. Feel free to give your kid blank paper, poster board, wrapping paper, or cardboard to draw on. My son has a giant box he uses as a fort, and we let him color the inside of that as well.
I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, the same way most people do. I love getting ideas for new activities with my kid, but some of those blog posts have to be built on a house of LIES. There is no way your 18 month old built a Christmas tree out of playdough and wrapped garlands around it like that, Smothery Mothering!! THERE’S NO WAY. So take Pinterest with an enormous grain of artisan, organic, hand-harvested, pink Himalayan sea salt. OK, rant over. (maybe).
I saw this idea for sorting Pompoms by color as an activity for 2 year olds. Well, I just happen to have one of those at my house, so I thought, why not entertain him? I used construction paper, and plastic cups I had laying around as the basis for this project. Look at all the random junk you’ve accumulated since having a child (I mean, who has time to take out the recycling any more?!?!) and find a few containers that are roughly the same size. You’ll also need scissors, tape, and a pencil. You could probably paint the bottoms of the containers instead of using construction paper if you’d like. I’m not your boss. (But if I am, GET BACK TO WORK, GAYLE!)
Trace the bottom of the container onto the paper. I cut one out, and tested it in the cup until it fit, then used that as my template for the others.
Tape the circles into the bottom.
Boom! Ready to play! This only took me 10 minutes or so.
I was making this in the bathroom while my son was in the tub. You guys got to see my counters while they were clean! Oh, I mean, they’re always clean. I’m like, Martha Stewart mixed with June Cleaver, but super hot and witty like Tina Fey, all in one.
For younger kids, or when just starting to learn colors,use fewer containers and colors. I would also start with colors that are distinctly different from each other, like red and green, or yellow and blue. Orange and red can be a pain to differentiate, so start out simply.
“Why are there no pictures of this mystery toddler playing with this toy his mother so lovingly crafted?” you’re asking. Well, because he immediately wanted to play with the circles in the bottoms of the cups, and cried until I pulled them all out for him. Then he shoved each one into my dresser through a tiny gap in the drawer. Maybe I should have just made that the game? Now I have a new idea…
But you can see why I have a vendetta against Pinterest. It would have been so easy for me to snap a picture of the back of baby Nacho’s head “playing” with this toy while he desperately tried to pull the circles out of the bottom. So don’t feel bad if you make something, and it doesn’t go as planned. All kids are different, and all kids are weird. I try to pay attention and participate in the way he plays with something, rather than trying to guide how he’s “supposed” to play with something. Above all, have fun!
As I said in a recent post, we’re planning to travel with my 2 year old for the holidays! I know, it’s completely nuts, but I’m preparing as best I can. So here we have one of my solutions: DIY toddler sewing projects! You will need markers, some kind of tough card stock (I reused old manila folders), a hole punch, and shoes laces or ribbon.
I drew some simple pictures on the manila folder with sharpies, and colored them in.
The I cut them out and punched holes around the edge:
It’s surprisingly simple. If you need something more durable you can color on and cut out plastic from milk jugs, or laundry detergent. Since we’re traveling for Christmas, I made a Christmas tree complete with tinsel:
It’s so cute I amaze myself sometimes! Now we’ll see if Nacho enjoys them at all. I hope so, because I made four total.
We are planning to travel for Christmas with my two year old because A) I’m insane, and B) Someone gifted me lots of Austin Beerworks beer, so I can tolerate more aggravation (Note: I do NOT mean drinking and driving. That’s an absolutely terrible idea. Just drink at home, so you can play video games at the same time!).
Since we’re traveling with a toddler, I am planning as many activities as possible that are lightweight, easy to carry, pack, and play with, and are cheap, so I don’t have to freak out if bits get left behind. To that end, I made some simple, free winter printables that you guys are welcome to. You can use these as coloring pages or just decorate with cheap stickers!
You’ve got your basic Christmas tree, and a snowman and house to decorate, since not everyone celebrates Christmas. The house can be made into a gingerbread house, or a monster house, whatever the kiddo’s tiny heart desires. And you can print dozens of them. Dozens!!!
Everyone be safe during this insane travel and shopping time. Remember that you don’t have to shop if you don’t want to! Whatever you’re up to, have fun and be safe!
Love, That Clever Chick
Like most parents, I’m constantly looking for ways to entertain my kiddo, especially ways that don’t cost anything. To that end I follow a blog called Free Fun in Austin, which alerted me to the existence of a free play area inside Lakeline Mall. It’s air conditioned, free, and has wifi and comfy seats. What more could an adult need?
Little Nacho is about 1 1/2, and he liked the play area well enough, but he’s a bit too young to get the most out of it. Mostly he wanted to point to all the shapes and letters on the carpet and name them. The place is neat, and pretty clean, and kids older than mine had a blast. I’d say it’s probably better for ages 3-7. We also saw a kiddie train going through the mall, but I didn’t find the starting point or where to pay for it. I know, you guys come here to get all the wonderful details, and once again, I delivered. That wasn’t vague at all!
To sum up, it’s clean, free, and air conditioned. It’s not so amazing that it’s worth a special trip over there, but if you’re at the mall anyway, it’s a good place for kids to burn off energy.
Rainy days, blah blah, kids trapped in the house, yadda yadda, mom’s out of booze, we need an activity. My son can’t get enough of playing with balls, so I thought I’d look at the resources I had on hand to craft an activity for him.
What does every crafty mom having laying around? Cardboard tubes! Whether from paper towels or toilet paper, we know there MUST be a use for them, and we hoard them like canned goods in a bomb shelter. I have these things falling out of cabinets when I attempt to put dishes away, so I figured it was about time to use a few up.
You will need: paper towel tubes, a cardboard box, strong tape, scissors, balls.
I had this Costco yogurt box laying around, and it is the perfect size for this. You can use something bigger or smaller, it’s up to you. I’m going to show you the basics of how I made mine, then you can adjust according to the materials you have on hand.
I started out laying the cardboard tubes in the box to measure how many I would need. I cut the tops off, long ways, just using scissors. I didn’t cut them directly in half, but if you have a shortage of paper towel tubes (Ha! Yeah, right) then you can do that and use each half.
I used pieces of toilet paper roll to add extra support to the paper towel tubes, with double stick tape. Important note: make sure the balls you’re going to use for this will fit through with those supports on there. Mine did not. I used whiffle golf balls and had to remove my beautiful supports.
I used big loops of masking tape to stick the tubes into the box. You can also use duct tape, or whatever you have laying around that’s fairly tacky. Again, test this thing before you hand it to your toddler so you don’t have to frantically rip pieces off while they run off to play with power outlets.
Success! He played with it!
Disclaimer: it does not work with kangaroos. I apologize for this huge oversight.
Hubby and I took a trip to Dallas not too long ago to visit family and friends. While we were there, we went to the Dallas World Aquarium. This place is absolutely amazing! As you walk up the path to buy tickets, you pass cages with tropical birds, and a tree-kangaroo! This place is way more than just an aquarium. There are monkeys, snakes, sloths, spiders, a giant otter, a manatee, and all kinds of things. You start in the top, which is the rain forest canopy, and work your way down to the aquariums. They give you a guidebook at the beginning with the daily schedule, which includes talks and animal feedings. We got to see the giant otter and the sharks get fed. The sound system for the talks was not great, however. The background noise of an entire rain forest kind of drowned out the guides. The whole place is clean, and informative, and the animals are healthy and well-cared for.
Now for the practical details:
1) It’s a bit pricey, but I think it’s absolutely worth it. You can spend the ENTIRE day there, there’s so much to see. Keep and eye out for a Groupon or other discount.
2) Pay for parking, (it was either $7 or $5, can’t recall), but the parking is right across the street, and plentiful.
3) We went on a weekend and it was moderately busy. Not so crammed you couldn’t see anything, but enough people that you sometimes got caught in a clump.
4) Very stroller and kid friendly. The changing areas were clean and in working order. I didn’t check if they have changing tables in the men’s rooms or not.
5) There is food you can buy there, both snacks and in a cafe. We had our own snacks with us, and stuck to those. No one checked our bags or told us not to bring in outside food.
6) It’s all nice and cool! It’s not like, air conditioned, but it was kept pretty cool, and everything is shady and breezy.
7) BRING A CAMERA. I neglected to do so, which is why I only have terrible cell phone pictures for you.
8) You don’t need to get there at the crack of dawn, but I would give yourself at LEAST 3 hours to look around. We had about that much time before closing, and felt rushed toward the end.
9) Read the schedule they’ll give you. It has animal feeding times and guide talks listed, and those are worth seeing.
10) You don’t have to have kids to enjoy this place. Hubby and I loved the whole place, and my sis, Beans is a huge fan also. Baby Nacho wasn’t too interested in the monkeys and leopard, but the fish, and especially the octopus were enthralling.