Threading activity

So I have a lot of ideas and quite a few projects that I keep meaning to start but I never seem to quite get around to them.  So a couple of days ago when I sent the boys out for a walk with my husband I decided it was time to get started.  My first project was super easy, but such a great activity to increase fine motor control and better yet to keep the boys busy for more than 5 minutes.

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This activity would be perfect for a busy bag as it is small but you could also make a bigger version.  Total cost of this project – $4, I made two (one for each of my twins) with lots of leftovers to make other items.

Firstly you need some match sticks and some containers.  I purchased some tooth pick holders ($2 for a pack of 4 at my local cheap shop), but you could also use a sugar shaker.  The other option is to reuse a container and drill some appropriate sized holes in the top.

I took the tooth picks out of the containers – I don’t recommend using toothpicks with toddlers as they are sharp and we don’t want any accidents.  I then sorted out my matchsticks into colours, and decided to just use the plain one for this project and save the colours for another “busy bag” idea.

It was simply a matter of then putting enough matchsticks into two of the containers and closing the lid back on.  Super easy.

My only recommendation is to check that your match sticks will fit through the holes.  The tooth pick holders I chose had 1 large hole and a set of 5 small holes.  As it was a cheap item I found that two of the holders had smaller holes that weren’t formed completely and the match sticks wouldn’t fit through.  Obviously I didn’t use these ones, but they are perfect for continuing to hold all the tooth picks!

This activity gives my boys the option of threading through the easier larger hole, or the harder smaller holes.  Both will increase their fine motor control skills, as well as increase their awareness of spatial relationships.  I start off with all the toothpicks out and let me thread them all through, but as they work it out I am sure they will be able to take the top off themselves and pour them all out, or alternatively shake them out one by one.  Either way it keeps them busy and happy, and better yet it helps them learn.

You could also take this idea further and create a different container for each colour, wither by putting a piece of the same coloured paper under each container or sticking it inside or outside the container, and ask the child to sort the match sticks out into the matching colour container.

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Budget gift idea from toddlers

So it was my mother in laws birthday the other day and I was completely stuck for gift ideas.  We weren’t giving her anything from us but I needed something from the boys that I could do on minimal funds.

I was chatting with one of my friends and she suggested this great idea, pot plants.  So the boys and I took a trip to our local hardware store, and picked a couple of terracotta pots and I let the boys choose a plant each.   Only cost me $6 for 2 pots and 2 plants, one from each of my twins.

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I took it all home, and I painted the outside of the terracotta pots white, as well as the inside rim and left it to dry overnight.  The next day I let the boys paint the pots with their fingers and brushes, we used finger paint, but next time I would use a standard paint as I felt the colours were a little washed out.

Once they had dried overnight, I put on some blue glitter glue – I found it easier to put on with my fingers rather than a brush, as the glitter was surprisingly hard to spread.  Once that was dry I put on a varnish – I just used what I had which was a matte varnish used for canvases.  Next time I would probably use a more appropriate sealer.

Keeping toddlers entertained – our first attempt with finger paint

So I had this brilliant idea the other day that I would get the paints out for a little project for the boys but since we hadn’t used paints before I thought we better give them a try first.  It was interesting.

First of all let me say I thought I was well prepared.  I set their little table up, stuck newspaper to it so they couldn’t paint it.  I got the boys in their art smocks, got some paper out and the paints.  Now what I didn’t think about was the fact that I didn’t have a paint tray.  Oops!  Thankfully I had yelled at my husband the day prior for throwing out a meatball tray I was keeping and made him get it back out and wash it.  It was perfect.

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I put a small amount of paint into a few sections of the meatball tray

The other thing I guess I wasn’t really prepared for was just how much the boys would attempt to eat the paint.  Trying it once yes I completely understand, but by the 3rd or 4th time of one of the boys tasting the paint my husband was pretty annoyed.  I ended up giving them a foam paint brush each to play with as well.  The boys enjoyed dipping their fingers into the paints and eventually putting the paint onto the paper.  One of the twins got the idea of the paintbrush, the other wasn’t really interested.

Next time I will know to have a wet cloth on me to wipe hands as they attempted to grab me with paint.  The paint washed off them, their clothes and the chair very easily.

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The boys art work!

Entertaining toddlers when your sick

Unfortunately I’m unwell at the moment, very unwell.  And it is quite hard to look after twin toddlers when your sick.  I am lucky to have my husband home in the mornings so he was able to run around after them for me today, but this afternoon I’m all on my own.  So I thought I would share some ideas on how to entertain toddlers (1-2 year olds) when your sick.  This can be a tricky age as there isn’t many activities that they are capable of doing on their own,  so here is a few ideas…

* Ask your partner to take a day off work if you are really unwell – my husband offered today but because his shifts are so few and far between I sent him off to work.  Silly me!!!

* Ask someone for help.  A family member, a friend, a neighbour.  We don’t really have that luxury but if you do now is the time to use it!  They could take the kids for a walk, or just play with them while you lie down.

* Honestly if you need to take a nap, lie on the couch, close all the doors so the kids will be safe and have a nap.  You will wake up if the kids scream and you would be surprised at how much better you will feel if you have a 20min snooze.

* Busy bags are a great idea (I haven’t finished mine – bad timing!).

* Grab a whole lot of balls, lie on the couch and roll or throw them across the floor, my kids love crawling after them and bringing them back and I have a few extra so the ones they don’t bring back don’t matter.

* Sit on a chair or on the floor next to a pile of books and attempt to read to them – if they’re anything like my boys they will flick through them before you have a chance to read them but it does quietly entertain them for a little while.

* Lie on the floor and let the kids climb all over you.  One of my kids loves to jump on me (or should I say hurl himself at me), so that keeps him entertained.

* Turn on one of your kids favourite DVD’s, sit them down with a snack and enjoy the peace (or noise but at least they’re entertained!!).

* Put the kids in the bath, add in some extra bubbles, the bath toys and maybe even a drop or two of food colouring – if you top up the water to keep it warm they can have a wonderful play in the bath and all you have to do is sit and supervise (and throw the toys back in when they push them out).

* Snuggle yourself under a blanket and get another one for each child (their size), my kids like it when I tuck them in so they can pull it off.  Play peek-a-boo with them, throwing the blankets over their heads and watch them create their own fun.

* Grab a colander and some pipe cleaners and let the children figure out how to thread them through – great for fine motor control.

* Have a picnic dinner on the floor – it can be hard to lift up kids into their high chairs when your unwell so have a mini picnic for dinner.  Grab some cut up fruit, savoury biscuits, cheese and sultanas and let your kids enjoy.

* If your kids like to organise – one of mine does, cook the kids a handful of vegetables, give them a plate that has defined sections or a muffin tray and let them sort their food.  Easy dinner and play at the same time.  I sit mine in their highchairs and this can extend dinner time to an hour while you sit in a comfortable chair and try to feel better.

* Give the kids a roll of toilet paper or a box of tissues and let them go for it.  My boys love pulling out all the tissues and putting them back in, and you can still use them once they’ve finished playing with them.

* Bring out a toy the kids haven’t played with before or those that have been packed away for a while.  As the toy is new it will keep them entertained for quite a while!

Your kids will generally know when you’re not well and will hopefully be a little less demanding and give you extra cuddles!!  If it really comes down to it an early bed time will not kill them.  Put them in their cot with a dummy, soft toy or whatever comforter they use, and let them chat away.  If they are unsettled you can sit on the floor (or lie on the floor) and chat to them.  Mine love rhymes and songs (that I make up).

Toddler busy bag materials

So with toddler busy bags on my mind, last week I headed to my local shops to see what was available to turn what I was dreaming of into reality.  I already have lots of bits and pieces to use but I was looking for a few specifics for this and another idea I have, which I will share with you later.  So everything I bought came from either a $2 shop, the reject shop or Kmart (which now has a lot of great cheap crafty items!).  Most items will be used across a range of projects but there’s a couple that are great activities in themselves as below…

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Couldn’t resist these – cute bags to colour in which we can they use to carry around other activities

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Cute little puzzle erasers – great for my two boys who like chunky things they can turn over and look at from all sides

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Zipper pencil cases – this pencil case is made entirely of zippers so is great for them to sit and play with quietly

Everything below is odds and ends that I will use to make up some other busy bags and some other projects for my boys at home.  Most of it only cost $2, which is great!!

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Keeping toddlers entertained – our first attempt with crayons

Life with 16 month old twins can be very challenging!  My boys are polar opposites which at times is really great but at other times leaves me wanting to tear my own hair out.  At the moment their endless frustration and resulting tantrums (for want of a better word) are also very draining.

Although twins are an extremely rewarding experience and I love them more than anything, entertaining two children who at times have very different interests can be quite difficult.  I can only guess that it would be a similar situation with two children who are less than a year apart in age.  With children who are different ages you can set them up with age appropriate activities and the older they are, I hope, the less you need to help them with said activity (I could be completely wrong).

With all this in mind I have been trying to come up with activities that keep them both interested, that help them learn, and that are easy enough for them to do (and for me to manage).  Last week we did the water play.  So this week we made our first attempt at drawing, or should I say playing with crayons.  The crayons were a hit, they even managed to get some on the paper!!  Watching them use the crayons in completely different ways was really interesting.  One mostly banged, making small dots on the paper, between putting it in his mouth; while the other happily scribbled, between putting it in his mouth (hehe).

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Their first scribbles

One of my boys also managed to draw on the wall – oops!  When it happened, I laughed and my husband yelled (it shows our different parenting styles but it also shows how different my two boys are, as the other didn’t even attempt to draw on the wall, even though his brother went to do it a second time).  I wasn’t overly worried as I figured I’d be able to get it off somehow and really if it came to it there’s still some paint in the shed and I could just repaint that spot.  I tried getting it off with a damp cloth, no luck.  But then I remembered I had a sample I had been holding onto since pre-children just for this very occasion (yes I like to keep things just in case!).  After a little searching I found it, a magic eraser, and it turns out it is pretty magic.  Slightly damp, less than a minute and the marks were gone.  Yippee.  Now its on my shopping list to buy (I googled it, yes they still make it).  A friend told me later the same day that toothpaste also gets crayon off the walls so I will try and keep that in mind.

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The crayons were packed back into their box and will come out again soon but I’m slowly starting to get more of an idea of what they are capable of and what will entertain them (and for how long) which will make that last little stretch before a meal or a nap so much easier to deal with.  My list of activities in my head is slowly growing and I can’t wait to try lots of new things with my boys.  They are just growing up too fast!

Water activity for toddlers

So with my boys being in what I can only call a difficult stage, I have been racking my brains trying to think of things to keep them occupied that will reduce their frustrations.  They are in this very in between stage of not quite independently walking and not quite talking and everything ends up frustrating them, as they can’t quite do everything they wish to do.  Which leads to complaining, screaming and crying; which leads to this mummy wanting to tear her hair out!

A lot of the activities I find are aimed at 3+, so are toys for that matter – it seems anything that has a small part is labelled aged 3 and up.  But I am slowly finding things that I can use and feel safe leaving the boys with that can keep them entertained.  Today I decided to put together a simple activity of my own to keep the boys entertained after they kept fighting over toys.

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I just grabbed a few things from around the house – we don’t own one of those water tables, even though I would like one they are out of our price range, so a few weeks ago I bought a couple of kitty litter trays from Kmart for a few dollars each.  I grabbed them, a couple of shape blocks from one of the boys toys, a couple of little people animals and a couple of rubber duckies.  I filled the trays with a couple of centimetres of water which I put on our dining table under a towel.  The boys sat or stood on a dining chair each and began their play.  In hindsight I should have got a lot more towels before we started!

The boys had an absolute ball!  Splashing the water everywhere, putting the small toys in and out and just generally having fun.  The reason I liked this activity and will do it again was because it also taught them something.  They splash in the bath tub and nothing happens.  But when they spill water out of these tubs they see it go over the table, the floor and themselves.  They are getting more use to the idea of cause and effect and learning more about water in general.  I also ended up giving them a baby face washer each, but only one of the boys was interested.  The one who was interested learnt even more as he watched his dry face washer soak up the water when he put it in the tub.  He then picked it up and watched the water drip out of the face washer.  He took great pleasure in it all.

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This activity kept them amused for about half an hour which was long enough to get them through to the next meal time without any further tantrums or fights.  They were happy, I was happy and they managed to both play and learn something.