Age Under 2 years
Once nice weather makes it our way in the Seattle area we run outside and stay until the rains come. We have been playing outside a lot and I needed something that both kids could be engaged in so I wasn’t trying to watch one outside while the other was inside . This was the ticket , you will see that they weren’t doing the same thing at the same time but everyone was happy and I sat in the sun listening to giggles under a blue sky. Pretty perfect, of course I had to strip them both down at the door so my carpets weren’t ruined but that’s the price you pay for fun. As you will see there was lots of learning happening too.
Gather your materials. We grabbed a bunch of different sized containers, some spoons, shovel and bucket. We have raised beds in our yard with soil in them so we used that too.
We dug some dirt.
They got water together
And that’s when we lost my wee girl. She decided she’d play with water – and drink a lot of it.
My son was deep in mud soup making. He soon noticed that if he put the dirt on the water it sank. We talked about why while my daughter continued to drench herself at the tap.
He counted and added bits of weeds, leaves, flowers, rocks, clovers…
Then pretended to give it a taste before adding a little more of this or that.
Oh look who came back to see what we were up to. She finally joined in adding dandelions and water.
Then I sat watching them play soaking up the giggles.
What’s your favorite outside activity with your kids?
Introducing children to letters doesn’t have to only use print material especially for the very young. Children learn with all their senses and it’s best to teach them using as many as we can. These simple but valuable introductory activities is what this series Alphabet For Starters is all about. My daughter who just starting to show interest in letters loved this simple sensory activity. We played and played naming letters as we pressed them into the squishy playdough. Try to avoid using this time to quiz your child on their knowledge ( I know it’s hard not to ) instead label what they are doing.
- Gather your materials. You will need some playdough ( we have great playdough recipes and even a gluten free playdough recipe) and alphabet cookie cutters.
- When starting any activity with a toddler I like to start them ready to play. I gave her a few letters to start and a hunk of playdough pressed flat.
- She started playing and naming letters immediately. She knows a handful of letters but all the ones she doesn’t are named R . I don’t tell her ” NO it’s T! This is T!” I just say something like ” You are pressing the letter T so hard into the playdough.” or ” Look at that yellow T you have.” There is no rush – just play with the letters.
- I was shocked with how long she played – it just went on and on! We grabbed more letters from the bin.
- I asked her which letters she liked and even though she said A and M she played with R way more than any other letter. It was fun to watch her explore knowing that in an instant she will be reading and writing like her brother. Savoring these simple playdough activities is such a treat.
Like this activity but you have an older sibling who wants to play too? Or a child who is already familiar with the alphabet?
Here are a few tasks for them :
- Use the cookie cutters to cut out the letters of their names.
- Give them words to cut out and spell.
- Guess how many letters they can fit in one hunk of playdough without overlapping the prints.
We just got back from a 9 day family vacation so I wanted to re-establish a routine quickly but gently. This Easter eggs craft was a perfect way to do that. It’s very process focused and I let the kids direct as much as they wanted. I had the paper cut out in eggs but also had extra as plain paper that they could make into any shape they wanted. This was quick for my son who was eager to play with new Lego sets (spoiled by a Great-Grandma) but my daughter explored for a long time after her brother was done. Expect a mess and enjoy!
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper, bubble wrap ( the big ones works well), paint, a tray or plate for paint, brushes ( love ours from craftprojectideas.com) , some painter’s tape , scissors and if you want to display it a few sheets of construction paper and glue.
- Start by cutting out some paper eggs. I made sure to have plain paper on hand too but my kids just made a few eggs each.
- Next attach the bubble wrap to the table. My daughter loved popping the wrap which is great for fine motor development.
- Dish out the paint. I have been teaching my son about colors and how adding white changes the tint so we did that. Adjust this step to your child. My daughter hated mixing and when we helped her with the first she started crying . My son mixed all hers for her after and showed her how he mixed his and then she was fine but I will find a new way of approaching this with her next time.
- Paint the bubble wrap. My daughter wasn’t sure at first so I sat down and painted with my son, soon she was asking for the brush too.
- My son painted with his brush but my daughter and I took turns, she often used her hands. Then wanted them wiped off, then … well it was a long back and forth but that’s ok.
- Print the paper on. She insisted on printing one in the same spot as her brother.
- Voila !
- Glue to construction paper and you have a super easy Easter craft for all ages.
Easter Egg Books
Ollie’s Easter Eggs (a Gossie & Friends book) by Olivier Durea is a cute book about friends working hard to dye their Easter eggs, well all but one Ollie who is playing and looking incredibly adorable in bunny ears while the others work hard. However Ollie may have missed out on dyeing the eggs but he makes up for it by masterminding a true egg hunt! My 4 year old son loved this book and how sneaky Ollie was as he snachted the hidden dyed eggs and re hid them! Cute addition to this popular series.
Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? by Karen Katz is a great way of having an Easter egg hunt while reading a story. If you aren’t familiar with the ” Where are Baby’s …” series of life the flap books, they are simple books where the reader searches for an item finding other things first before finally finding the title object, in this case Easter eggs. My daughter loves these books and plays with them even when we aren’t reading them together. I love the bright illustrations and the simple holiday theme.
The Best Easter Eggs Ever! by Jerry Smath .The story follows the Easter bunny and his 3 young assistant bunnies as they prepare for their big day. The Easter Bunny is getting tired and a little bored of his polka dot design for the eggs and decides to send out his assistants in search of new designs. The little bunnies head out with one egg and paints to all different places to find inspiration. When one of the little bunnies is captivated by the night sky she doesn’t notice how dark it is and how lost she has gotten. The Easter Bunny and his other assistants find her and in the morning the new designs are celebrated. My son loves an inside look at any sort of secret place like the Easter Bunny’s or Santa’s workshop so he was drawn into this book immediately. I liked the illustrations and how detailed they were , it certainly got me excited about Easter.
Crafts for toddlers often has more than one goal. My main goal is special time together but often I have a secondary goal like fine motor development, learning colors, or sensory play. My daughter is 20 months old and I have no laundry list of things I want her to know at this age , my goal is to expose her to lots of fun activities and see what she takes a liking to. She loves water play so I thought she might like to try puffy paint again, I was right. This is a great activity for preschoolers too, don’t think simple crafts like this are only for toddlers.
- Gather your materials. You will need some plain old shaving cream, green paint ( darker the better), something to stir with , plain white glue, a marker , scissors and heavy paper.
- Start by drawing a shamrock on heavy paper don’t worry about it being even close to perfect you will be slopping and squishing puffy paint all over it!
- Time to mix. My son who was playing Lego in the playroom but didn’t want to make a craft did pop up to help mix. I do this so often I don’t measure anymore. I usually use about a cup of shaving cream to about 1/4 cup of glue. Then add the paint until it’s the color you want. Ours was greener than it looks but definitely a mint green.
- Start playing.
- She wasn’t sure at first.
- But soon both her hands were squishing, spreading and exploring.
- Yay fun !! We played and played.
- She was not happy when I told her it was time to wash hands.
- But washing the container in the sink was a great treat… for both of us.
- Let dry (at least 24 hours so the paint stays puffy even after you cut into it) and cut out.
My toddler is in the eating paper phase and the fling the paint phase. We are still having fun with paint but when we do my camera is safely on a shelf since I need two hands to wipe down the playroom walls. Today while her brother was at school we made this mess free butterfly craft with ribbons something she has no desire to eat or fling. If your toddler’s reaction to an activity frustrates you find a way to connect and create with them that doesn’t push your buttons. I say all the time how if we make the challenge too great for our kids they shut down and stop learning well it goes for us too. If I am frustrated I am not connecting with my child and getting angry about exploration serves no one. Don’t give up on the messy stuff (they need it) just try it again when you have the patience to deal with their exuberance.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sturdy paper , contact paper , ribbons in your choice of colors , scissors and crayons.
- Have your child color the paper first. I forgot. For really little guys skipping this like I did is probably best, it’s another step that might make it too long. While they do that cut the ribbon.
- Fold your paper and cut out a butterfly shape.
- Cut out the middle.
- Peel the back off your contact paper and press your butterfly on sticky side up.
- Give the butterfly to your child. She just felt it for a minute or two. I just let her explore.
- Hand them the ribbon. She immediately started adding it to the butterfly.
- No need to help unless they seek it, every now and then I would say ” That’s a nice red ribbon.” or ” You found a yellow one.” but it wasn’t a constant dialog.
- They will let you know when they are done. Activity will slow, items may start finding the floor… just know that toddlers typically won’t spend long on a structured activity like this and don’t feel like you are doing anything wrong . We spent about 5 minutes total. This is her “done” she claps her hands once and says “un!”
- Put it up where your little one can see what they made and know you think it’s fantastic!