Category Archives: Life Skills

Let’s Practice Brushing our Teeth

Before J’s first trip to the dentist, we did a quick unit on teeth.  We talked about why to brush/floss, how to, especially bad foods, etc.  Here’s an activiity we did that turned out pretty fun and useful.

You’ll Need: At least one teeth photo (laminated), toothbrush, water, various foods (the stickyer the better!)

I laminated a few teeth photos (found on GoogleImages).  Then J
fed the photos some good and not so good foods.  We took note of how each food effected the teeth (ex, icing got stuck all over the teeth).  Of course I let him try some of the foods too, as evidence shows in the photo! It did give him some real experience with how the foods felt in his mouth and helped him better describe the feeling.
Then we practiced brushing the gunk away. It was a good way to get him to see the purpose of brushing.  We talked about where to brush (front, back, top, sides,…) and how to brush and practiced the strokes. After our fake teeth were clean, we headed upstairs to brush some real teeth.
We’ll probably do more practicing like this as he gets older. This was a fun way to teach and practice a very important part of life.

We started a new tooth brushing song during this activity. I got tired of our normal brushing song (This is the way we brush our teeth… like the mulberry song) and decided we needed a change.  J thinks our new brushing song is fun. I sing to the tune of “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair”… and just change the words to… I’m gonna brush that cheese right off of my teeth, I’m gonna brush those blueberries right off those back teeth… filling in whatever he just ate and wherever I’m brushing in his mouth. He likes to remind me all the different foods I have to brush off.  A year later and he still loves to sing this song!

Age attempted: 2.5 years

Heart of Giving: School Supplies

Free back to school clip art of black board with apple message.This is the time of year when many organizations are collecting school supplies for those in need.  Our church is one of the many.  We read through our church bulletin together and I explained the need to J.  He’s so excited about going to school with his backpack in hand and wanted other kids to have a backpack too.  The bulletin announcement had a list of sugggested supplies. J and I used that list to create our own picture list on ppt.  I read the item, typed it into clipart and J chose which  picture to use.  This made even list-making an activity he could participate in.

To add some math practice, include how many of each item is needed.  Then have your little one read the list and count the correct number to place in your shopping cart. Of course I didn’t think of that while making our own list!

We printed our picture list and headed to the store to make our purchases.  J “read” the list and called out the next item needed. Of course his favorite was crossing off each item with his highlighter! When we got home I set out all the supplies for him to fill the backpack with and it now sits by the door, waiting to be brought to church.  I plan on having J turn it in himself.

This is a great act of service to get kids involved in since they so easily relate.  Do a quick search for those collecting school supplies in your area, maybe a local church, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, etc.  As a former teacher I know all you really need to do is call up your local school, and ask them for a list of supplies needed.  There were always students in need on the first day of school.

My Little Helper: Dresser Labels

In the months leading up to my due date, I worked at getting J a little more independent.  Just a few of the things we worked on: dressing and undressing, what goes in the dirty clothes hamper (and what does NOT go in dirty clothes hampers!), and finally putting away his clean laundry.

I decided to place labels on his dresser drawers to help in this process.  I created them in ppt, using clipart and Google Images to add pictures since J can’t truly read yet.  Then, I printed them on cardstock and laminated them with clear contact paper.  Finally, I placed them on the correct drawer.  These have worked great.  It made picking his clothes out in the morning and returning his clean laundry a fun and independent task.

**ETA: J did this well for 5+ months.  Just a few days after writing this post, J had the dresser fall on him while getting his clothes out in the morning.  I made 2 mistakes… 1) The dresser wasn’t anchored to the wall (it is now… it and all the other furniture in the house!). J wasn’t a climber so I just assumed we wouldn’t have a problem. Wrong. 2) I didn’t think to explain the step by step instructions of how to properly use a dresser.  I have since taught him that you must close one drawer before opening another or the dresser becomes unstable.  It never even occurred to me to teach that.  Don’t make my same mistakes! Oh, and J ended up being fine, thank the Lord for His protection! **

Since it meant just a tiny bit more work, I went ahead and made labels for the nursery too.  God must’ve known that these labels would be necessary.  I ended up with an emergency c-section, got home to a 3 level house and not able to use the stairs but once a day.

These labels made it so easy for my husband to find things easily.  Anyone else have a man that can be told exactly where the ketchup is but not be able to find it until you walk over and point it out to him?  “Oh, you meant the top shelf.” – “Well that’s what I meant when I said ‘The ketchup is on the top shelf.’”  I think it’s a universal falty circuit wire in the male population.  My dad and brother do the same thing.

The labels worked wonders! Without them, he would’ve been in that nursery looking for the extra sheets or burp clothes forever, despite my instructions.  I would’ve had to trek up there just to point them out.   They worked so well, I almost wanted to put labels on all the other cabinets in the house.  It sure could save a lot of repetitive instructions.

Click on the link below to open the pdf files of my labels.  They include the generic things: shirts, pants, socks. etc; or swaddles, onesies, diapers, etc for the nursery.

Nursery Labels                                                                               Boy Labels

 

 

(I don’t have any girls, so you won’t find girl attire on any of the labels.)

Pouring Practice

Simple pouring practice kept my J occupied for 2 hours.  He was soaking wet by the end of the two hours but had so much fun (apparently he needs a little more practice before I hand over the milk).

We did this activity inside (it was BRUTALLY hot outside).  TIP: I bought a waterproof tablecover to lay down for activities like this. It’s more sturdy than a tarp, so it stays in one place easily.  And it does a great job in trapping the water so it doesn’t hit my new wood floors! We also use the tablecover when finger paiting inside and under the pool for our indoor snowbox. It’s more expensive than a towel or simple tarp but worth the expense in my opinion.  And we can always use it as it’s intended too! :)

I gave him two trays (found at Target) a bowl of water and some different containers.  I asked him to pretend each container was a cup that needed to be filled with the water before setting the table for dinner.  I would’ve used real cups, but every single cup in my house was in the dishwasher.  Btw, how do 3 people go through every cup in the house in such a short time???  Toy tea sets would work perfectly for this.

My goal was for him to learn when to stop pouring to keep the “cups” from overflowing.  He tends to pour until the water hits the very tip of the cup which of course makes spilling guaranteed.  I used this to teach him when to stop pouring.

Was this a successful lesson, well yes and no.  Yes, he learned how to do it “right” but he didn’t necessarily enjoy doing it right.  He would much rather pour until it spills!

After the pouring practice, he just played and played and played.  I was so surprised he stayed focus for so long.  I just added some new utencils or containers every half hour.

Waterplay utencils that J finds entertaining:

  • medicine droppers and dispensers
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • bottles
  • milk carton with holes poked in the bottom (to create rain showers)
  • nasal aspirator
  • tubes
  • funnels
  • baster
  • squirt bottle
  • serving tray
  • muffin pan
  • ice cube tray
  • flask
  • tea kettle
  • bowls
  • buckets
  • paint brush
  • water wheel
  • sponge

What utencils does your little one like to play with in the water?

Homemade Sunbleached Puzzles

I came across this brilliant idea for sunbleached puzzles.  They were so easy to create and great entertainment (and practice) for a puzzle-lover. It was also a great little lesson in the sun’s effects.

I set out foam bath letters and numbers on dark construction paper and left them to sunbathe awhile on the deck.  J enjoyed watching the process, impressed by the magical results! We then brought it all inside to start putting it all together.  You can make this activity more difficult by adding extra foam letters to the choices.

This is great practice at letter recognition.  It’s also great way to help them learn how to spell their name, memorize their phone number or address. 

The link above used magnetic letters and shape blocks to create their puzzles.  You could also cut your own shapes out of colorful foam.

Healthy Food Placemat

I found this Fun Food Guide and thought it would work great as encouragement towards healthy eating since J loves filling in charts and graphs and has this innate need to “get all the spots”.  So that we didn’t have to keep printing off a new chart, we made it into a reusable placemat.

PREP: I used google images to printout out a ton of pictures of healthy foods from all the food groups.  I also attempted a dot-to-dot title using some of the different foods. I had everything precut. 

ACTIVITY: He first glued the title in the center of the paper.  Then we spread out all the pictures.  I called out a food for J to find and glue onto the construction paper.  This made the craft a game and also helped me find out which foods he did/didn’t know. 

On the other side, he glued down the chart and descriptions of each food group found HERE.  He also glued some fruit pictures I found to color.

When all the gluing was finished, I covered the construction paper in clear contact paper. This way I can wipe it clean easily and he can use dry erase markers to write on it.

FUN WAYS TO USE THE PLACEMAT:

  • Connect the dots to write the word “Healthy”
  • Circle all the pictures of a certain food group
  • Circle foods that start with a certain letter
  • Circle foods of a certain color
  • Check off foods as you try them
  • Fill in the chart as you eat each meal
  • Color the fruit

We don’t fill the chart in every single day.  I usually bring out this placemat when J’s starting to get picky.  Since it keeps its novelty, it really helps him to finish his plate so he can color in all the shapes for that particular day.

Age: we started this around 33 months

 

Pick Your Own Fruit and Vegetables

This is the season to pick your own fruit!  We’ve done this twice now.  Last year we picked apples when J was 2.5 years.  This month we picked strawberries.  This is such a great activity.  For someone like me who can’t manage to grow anything, this is the only way he’ll probably ever see for himself where our food comes from (other than the grocery story!)

He’d much rather sleep in his crib.

 

Of course he loved enjoying the reward of his hard work too! 

I’ve found this website helpful in searching for farms where you can pick your own fruit/vegetables.  They have maps of each state so you can find farms for your specific county.  For those like me who are completely ignorant about which foods are harvested in which season, they also have harvest dates for your region.

Conversation Card

The outside of the card might not seem like much, but it’s the inside that counts the most! For Father’s Day this year, I’m starting a new tradition.  I asked J a few questions about his dad and wrote down his responses.  When he made  his Father’s Day card (this year was just construction paper, stickers and markers), I made sure he left space for me to include his responses.  The plan is to do this every year.  Hopefully posting this here will help me remember to keep it up!

We also did this for his Grandpa’s card. 

My questions were basically geared towards getting a 3 year old to share his thoughts on dad/grandpa. Here’s how one of our conversations went…

What’s your favorite thing about ___?
     “His toys.”
What do you like to do with ____?
     “I like to play with him.”
How would you describe ____?
     “He has a head. He has some eyes. He has a nose and a mouth.”
What do you want to say to ____?
     “I love you!” and then he says to me, “Thank you!” And then I say to him, “You’re welcome!” And then he says to me, “I love you.” and I say to him, “Thank you!” And then he say to me, “You’re welcome.”

I personally would love to get a card with my son’s thoughts about me, however simple.  I’m hoping dad and grandpa love it too.

My Little Helper: Laundry

We focus A LOT in our house about how we’re a family and a family works together to help each other out.  This is in fact one of my parenting goals that I have listed down. Doing simple chores is just one way to put this goal into practice and hopefully create a good habit that we’ll reap the benefits of in the future!

It’s been awhile since I’ve added any new responsibilities to J’s week.  I got lazy with early pregnancy.  Now that the nesting stage has hit, I’m trying to introduce some things that will hopefully help in the future.  Note that he’s just learning which means these new chores take longer to complete right now.  He’s also still in the stage of finding them fun (I try to make it a game).  I try to enjoy this because he does get to the point where mom must require it with some chores.  The older chores (that’s he’s had for a year or so) he is now capable of completing on his own without my help. This is a great stage to work towards!!  

1. We sort.  I typically bring down all the laundry baskets from the bedrooms and J helps me sort the clothes into 4 different piles (darks, whites, mediums, and reds).  This is great sorting practice by the way.  We work together on this task for now.  He does a great job, but does randomly come across something he isn’t sure where it belongs.  I’m sure he could’ve even done this at an earlier age, though likely with a little more direction on my part.  Me being there also helps encourage him to stay on task.  He can get distracted by naming who wears each particular article of clothing or trying to find a match to a sock.  I would venture most 2 years olds could manage this activity with mom or dad working alongside them.

2. He helps to put the dirty clothes into the washing machine.  I have a frontloader which makes this very easy for him.  His favorite part is pushing the buttons!

3.  He helps transfer the wet clothes into the dryer (and again pushes the buttons). 

4.  He helps me fold the clean laundry.  Sort of.  As of now, his job is to separate all the socks and then to sort them into piles for mommy’s, daddy’s, and J’s.  When we wash towels, we’re starting to work on folding the washcloths but there’s still a lot of learning with this one!

Please note that this doesn’t always look pretty.  I’ve found that things run the smoothest if I stick to my routine (choretime after breakfast and before play).  If I randomly call him for chores, his attention span doesn’t last as long.  He also doesn’t help load each color.  If he’s nearby, he wants to help (so he can push the buttons) or I call him to help.  I do it on my own if he’s playing in his room, with dad, or napping.

Age attempted: 33 months

Here are some of my other “My Little Helper” posts.  More to come as I take advantage of nesting!!

My Little Helper: Grocery Label list (or fun scavenger hunt)

My cousin recommended this idea after seeing J’s grocery list on this post (My Little Helper: Grocery Shopping) and we finally tried it out at the store.

Prep: I did a quick search for some of the logos of items on my grocery list, copy and paste and I’m done.  The internet makes this so simple and quick!

I didn’t pull it out at the grocery store until I knew we were about to start hitting the items on the list so basically we’d already gone through produce and meats.  J’s list also did not include everything on my list.  It was funny how he immediately knew what certain items were when I handed him the list.  Like he knew that the Yoplait logo meant yogurt or the Lactaid logo was milk. This not only keeps them busy while shopping, it was also great practice with word recognition and letter recognition.   

J really liked this, even better than the other grocery lists honestly.  I think it helped too that I gave him a highlighter to check off his list rather than the normal crayon or pen :)

For younger ones, I would put the items in the order that you’ll reach them in the store. Another thing that works well is to fold the list in half or in thirds so they are just looking at a few items on the list at a time. 

You could use this as a scavenger hunt rather than a grocery list that kids would love (which means they’re focused while you shop!).  And this would actually make the list even easier to create since it wouldn’t matter which items you included.

Age attempted: 33 months