Jun 10

memory2

Are you planning your summer activities with your kids already? Here’s a fun little project they will have fun making: memory matching cards! My kids love to play Memory–my preschooler plays the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at home, so we decided to make our own with readymade stickers and cardstock. Such a quick and easy project!

The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers. Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!

Project Materials:

  • Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
  • 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
  • Paper cutter or scissors, on hand

Total cost: $1.50

memory1
To Make:

You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need.

Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.

Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball sticking the stickers on the cards).

Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two different shots of the same doggie might be a little too similar! We used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them!

Play the game!

To Play (ages 3 and up):

  1. Mix cards up.
  2. Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
  3. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If cards don’t match, move to the next player.
  4. When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.

To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):

  1. Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
  2. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
  3. Next player takes a turn.
  4. When a match is made, everyone cheers.
  5. When all cards are matched, start over again.

The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):

  1. Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
  2. Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
  3. Cheer when child finds a match.

Other tips:

  • You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish!
  • If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own? Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.
Mar 25

Need some summer fun? I’ve collected a lot of my ideas for fun, free, crafty ideas for kids here. Your kids won’t go bored with all these quick and easy activities.

Crafts for Kids:

Toddler and Preschool Activities

Ideas:

Birthday Parties

Cooking and Fun Food:

Feb 25

toddlertoothbrush2

If your kids are like mine, you know that toothbrush time is a popular moment for power struggles with a toddler. For me, brushing teeth can be a dreaded chore because I’ve already been dealing with power struggles with my kids for 12 hours. I just want to get it done and skip the struggling.

I came up with a few strategies to get my kids to open up and say “aaahhh” that I shared over at Ohdeedoh today. A few additional strategies I failed to mention:

  • Brush my toddler’s nose to lighten things up and get him to laugh (and thus open his mouth)
  • Pretend like he’s in a dentist’s chair and lay him down and brush his teeth
  • When all else fails: I learned this from my oldest son (he did it to me): put your thumb on his chin and he’ll have a hard time not opening his mouth

A few strategies from the readers at the Ohdeedoh post:

  • Provide two toothbrushes so the debate is which toothbrush to use, not whether to brush or not
  • Sing “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth…”
  • Praise the child when he complies so he’ll know that he did what you wanted/you’re happy with him
  • Try an electric toothbrush (readers mentioned the Elmo toothbrush and Dora The Explorer toothbrush) or other special toothbrush (Firefly toothbrush lights up)
  • If the toothbrush has a character on it, say “We have to feed Elmo!”
  • Use special toothpaste (reader mentioned strawberry-flavored no-fluoride toothpaste)
  • Give rewards (reader mentioned giving stickers)
  • Allow child to brush her teeth at the same time as mom or dad
  • Ask child to make animal noises to get her to open up
  • Another animal idea: animal fun – say “Open up like a big hippo” to do the molars, and “Now you’re a tiger” for a big smile/growl to do the front teeth
  • Let child brush her own teeth, then finish up for them
  • Say “can I look for choo-choo trains in your teeth?” or insert your child’s favorite thing
  • Tell your child you want to tickle her teeth
  • Show your child a video of a crocodile bird at work, and then tell her the toothbrush is the crocodile bird
  • Say “Wait, are you sure there’s no dinner left in your teeth? What about the PEAS?” and then act like an earnest detective scrubbing the brush around her mouth and ask if she can think of anything else you might have missed.
  • Occasionally miss his mouth to make him laugh

To check the original post, go here.

What do you to to get your kid to open up?

Jun 19

Here’s a really early Halloween costume idea (for you last-minute parents who like to plan ahead!) or just a fun toddler diversion: use a bulk cereal box as a quick costume.

How to:

  1. Remove or staple flaps inside box. (I removed the bottom flaps and stapled the top ones to add reinforcement for the straps. I stapled smooth-side in so the nubs of the staples couldn’t catch on the kiddo)
  2. Staple straps on. I used a skinny scarf from the dollar store (left over from my son’s birthday party), but you can use fabric, ribbon, etc.
  3. Put it on the kid and go!

If it was really a halloween costume, I would dress the kid in a black shirt and pants (or yellow, or white, etc. to coordinate with cereal box).

You can’t tell by the photo but this is super-adorable and funny in real life.

Alternate Idea:

  1. Use same construction concept, but paint box and add assorted recycled materials to make it into a robot (or any other creature desired). Hmm, that sounds like fun, I might have to do that today.

May 26

Here’s a way to mix art time with playtime: use a (washable) toy to apply paint to paper. We used some old toy cars to roll in paint and then make a fun painting. My sons enjoyed using this unusual paint brush to make unique paintings.

Project Materials:
  • A car, or other washable toy
  • Washable paint
  • Paper
  • Paint brush (optional)
  • Palette of some sort (we used a plate)

To do:

Apply paint (or let child do it! My 2 year old loves this part) to palette. Roll, dip, or otherwise put toy in paint. Let kid use toy on paper!

May 21

It rains a lot in Oregon (until July 5th!), and I have to come up with rainy-day activities that expend little people’s energy without making me completely crazy. Here’s another quick and easy activity that will keep them entertained for quite awhile: a recycled grocery bag punching bag. It works more like tether ball than a punching bag, and if you have more than one child, they can play with it together.

Project Materials:

  • Plastic grocery bags, about 10
  • Piece of yarn, twine, etc.
  • A nail or hook for the wall

To Make:

Stuff one grocery bag with all the other bags (alternately, stuff a bag with recycled paper, newspaper, etc.). Knot top of bag, and tie a piece of yarn around it. Hang string on nail or hook on the wall (or in a doorway).

I would love to try this with a fabric cover (an old t-shirt? an old ruined piece of kiddo’s clothing?).

**REMEMBER: because this activity deals with potentially hazardous items, do not leave your child unattended with this toy. Do not leave it hanging after s/he is finished playing with it.**


Alternate Option:

Tie a stuffed animal or another soft toy to a string. Kids will enjoy batting this around as well!

May 19

If you need to occupy your toddler for 15 minutes, give her something to work on! In this simple activity, you have two cups and something to pour. I used rice (although, don’t be alarmed if it makes a mess!) If you’re concerned about the mess, try something bigger like cotton balls or larger dried beans.

My 16 month old had fun with this. Once your kid gets used to the concept of pouring, you can move on to pouring water! If you dare…

Apr 1

As I was making the graphic for “Make Something Cool Everyday”, my son picked up some of the alphabet pasta that I used and started to string them onto a pipe cleaner. I was so impressed that he started his own crafty project! I threaded a ribbon onto the pipe cleaner and let him use the pipe cleaner as a beading needle for the pasta. I also had some terry ponytail holders out that he strung onto his necklace. Not a bad project for a 2-1/2 year old to come up with on his own!

He loves to “do a little project.”

Nov 16

Kids of all sizes will enjoy making a pretty fall tree art project using a tracing of their hands as a tree trunk and branches, and finger painting the fall leaves. This is a quick and simple toddler art project, but older kids will also enjoy finger painting again! Use washable paint for easy clean up.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Crayon or marker
  • Paint

Instructions:

1. Trace the hand using a crayon or marker

2. Allow child to dip fingers in paint and smear, smudge, or dot in some fall leaves.

3. Admire!

Nov 15

My husband came up with this super easy and fun toddler sewing card project! You probably already have all the supplies you need to make this project, and it only takes a minute to put together. Your toddler will be occupied for awhile, too!

Materials:

  • Piece of construction paper or cardstock
  • Length of yarn
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Ball point pen
  • Hand towel

Instructions:

1. Place paper on towel, and poke holes in paper with pen. You can use a random pattern or a pattern that forms a picture, like a heart.

2. Make a “needle” with a short length of pipe cleaner. Bend the end of the pipe cleaner securely around the length of yarn.

3. Your toddler can use the pipe cleaner “needle” to sew through the marked holes. You will probably want to demonstrate it for him, and get him started.

That’s all there is to it! Don’t be too structured – allow your toddler to sew into whatever holes she wants to. There’s no wrong way to do this fun activity!

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