Link & Learn – Kids’ Activities and Early Learning

This week was the best week ever for No Time For Flash Cards. More people came to see the fun and learning that we shared this week than ever before. The first big hit was our Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub and the second was yesterday’s 75 TV Free Activities For Toddlers. But enough about us,  tell us about your week by sharing something you played, crafted or learned this week. If you are new here please do not get shy on us, link up and join the fun.

I hope this week is your best week ever!

 

A Look Back at A Year of Infant Activities

My baby girl turns 1 today and I am in shock that it’s already been a year.  As any parent feels it’s hard to imagine what reality was before this little book ripping, happy squealing , grape eating mama’s girl was here.  So today’s post is devoted to all the infant activities we did this past year .

Emotions Board Book

Peek -A-Boo Fruit

Discovery Bottles

Baby Block Painting

Baby’s First Sensory Tub

Baby’s First Finger Painting ( psst! It’s Sweet Potato!)

Shamrock Shakers – Discovery Bottles

shamrock shakersI love including my son in making something fun and useful for his sister. This discovery bottle is a fun way of using a holiday theme and gives your infant something fun to play with too. Remember with infants all activities and projects are intended to be used only when directly supervised.  Also only you know what is safe for your child, if they aren’t ready for an activity bookmark it and try it when they are.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some plastic bottles with lids a hot glue gun, a shamrock bead necklace, scissors and some rainbow ribbon. I also use tape on the bottles that run the risk of making huge messes if they open.  For the gel and sparkle bottle you will also need a funnel,  some gold sparkles and green shower gel or shampoo( got mine for a buck at the dollar store). For the rainbow shaker bottle some pom poms in rainbow colors.
  2. Start by drinking the water. 
  3. Next take off the label.
  4. Next cut the shamrock necklace into the bottle. This is awesome for fine motor development and takes a lot of patience. I was amazed my son was not only able to do this without help but how into it he was. They grow up so fast!
  5. Next add the sparkles.
  6. Next add the gel. 
  7. I used hot glue to glue the top on. Then more on the outside to seal it, and wrapped it in tape. Be careful some bottles are so thin that they will melt with hot glue on contact. If you are worried consider using crazy glue. Whether you are using hot or crazy glue should be done by adults only
  8. Cut a small piece of rainbow ribbon and glue it on.
  9. Let everything dry and cool completely .
  10. For the rainbow shaker Cut the necklace in.Pop in the pom poms. Glue the top and ribbon on as above.
  11. Play!  For the photos I had her in the crib so the bottle wouldn’t roll too far when I was trying to take a photo. I am not suggesting giving it to your infant for independent play, these discovery bottles are for closely supervised play only.

The rainbow one has lasted forever. 2 years later it’s still kicking!

Baby Block Painting

Painting with an infant is messy. I don’t like using paint brushes with tiny kids because paint flings everywhere, they look like spoons so they tend to go straight in the mouth and even ones with thicker handles are hard for little hands. Instead using easy to wash plastic toys like these blocks are a great way to paint and explore .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, blocks, plastic plate, painter’s tape and an eager baby.
  2. Start by using the painter’s tape to secure the paper. This is a must for us, for whatever reason my daughter has a serious fondness for paper. This keeps it as art instead of food.
  3. Pour some paint on the plate.
  4. Dip the block in and go for it.
  5. She examined it for a long time.
  6. Then started moving it around the paper. I took the other block and tapped it on the paper but she wanted to roll . It’s tempting to show babies and toddlers how to do things by holding their hands in yours and moving them, resist that urge when it’s a free exploration like this . Show them by example and then just narrate what they are doing. *( ETA – reader Brooke asked for an explanation about this and I want to make it clear that it’s not wrong to help your child do tasks by holding their hands , I was referring to free art explorations like this. My reasoning being that by letting them explore with their own motivation that they will direct their own play. I hope that clears it up ! Thanks Brooke!)
  7. She managed to get it up to her mouth but because the blocks are big not much made it in and was easy to wipe off.

With toddlers and preschoolers you can make fun shape prints with the blocks by slamming it down so if you have multiple ages this is a fun easy project for a rainy day.

Board Books – Not Just For Teething

My daughter loves going to the library with my son and me . She sits happily in front of me while I crane my neck to the side and find books that I could use in a post, or the lone fire truck book we’ve never borrowed before. But her favorite part by far is when we get to the board books where she can grab, lift and chew. So today’s post are a review of 5 books she grabbed and yes chewed at the library . She’s got pretty good taste!

Jet-Set Babies Wear Wings by Michelle Sinclair Coleman is a cute book all about traveling babies that is really more for the adults reading it than the babies.  It’s cute and simple but not really simple enough for infants or toddlers to grasp why adults like this book. That said it’s so important to read to your baby that I think there is a great market for books like this. If parents like reading them, find them amusing they are more likely to read to their babies who are still too little to voice obvious opinions. My daughter thought it was tasty and I appreciated the white text on black pages , the high contrast was obviously attractive to my 6 month old. There are a ton of other books in this Urban Babies Wear Black Series


In My Tree by Sara Gillingham is such a sweet book I wish my daughter would let me read it to her . The book is all about a little owl and what that owl does in it’s tree. The novelty is that the pages have cut outs in them and the owl is a finger puppet that is in the middle of the cut outs . My daughter who at the moment is 6 months old, only wants to grab and try to bite the owl. Do not let this turn you off, it’s such a pretty little book and my 4 year old loved it. Perhaps when my daughter is done teething I will read it to her again!

Beddy-bye, Baby: A Touch-and-Feel Bookby Karen Katz is a cute bedtime book for the baby crowd.  I like the rhyming text and that it’s a feel and touch book  but with the exception of the final page the textured pieces are too small . Fumbly flappy infant hands have a a hard time hitting the small textured sections. Ideally they would be larger so the child can explore as the adult reads. It’s not a huge complaint and I love Karen Katz so I would still recommend this book for families with little ones.

The Busy Little Squirrelby Nancy Tafuri is a great book for babies and toddlers. The readers follow along with a squirrel as she gathers nuts , seeds and berries for the winter. As she hunts for her treasure she encounters many animals who all make their respective sounds and ask her to play, of course she is too busy and continues on.  Even though the idea is not groundbreaking  I like that this book can be used to introduce animal sounds without simply sitting down with let’s say flash cards and teaching them to your toddler. Even if you have no real animals near by books like this one are a great way to authentically teach very young kids.

Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick is a great book for toddlers who are anxious about separation.  It goes through drop off time at school between a little girl and her dad. When I worked in a childcare setting bye bye time was a huge source of anxiety for many students, books like this one are such great tools for parents and teachers. There are wonderful tips at the back that in my experience are all great advice. This book is just one of many by the same author that are all wonderful tools for families and classrooms. My favorite being Teeth Are Not for Biting and Words are Not for Hurting