Category Archives: My Little Helper

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?

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.

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

Snow Shoveling Toddler Style

Thess pictures are from last year when J was 21 months.  We dressed him up in his winter gear, gave him a soup ladle and he was entertained “helping” dad shovel the driveway.  Maybe this simple idea will be put to use in light of the blizzard moving across the country!  Even little ones can “help”.

My Little Helper: Washing the Car

J loves to wash the car.  We do try and emphasize what a great helper he is by working with Daddy/Mommy to get the car clean and shiny, but really he scrubs because he loves it!  He loves anything involving cars really.  :)

I don’t think we need an explanation of what to do.  J gets a sponge and a bucket of water.  (The pic shows the new foam water shooters and of course he loves to shoot water on the car with those as well; they’ve become his version of hosing down the car.)

My Little Helper: Mopping the floor

Here’s an idea from Raegan at Children’s Learning Activities that I’m now finally letting J do with me.  I’m not sure why it took so long to let him try since he’s been sweeping the floors with me forever.  I invisioned water everywhere, but he really doesn’t create a huge mess.  I’m getting the floor wet anyway, so a little extra water isn’t such a big deal…. as long as he stays away from the carpet! Thankfully he’s great at keeping within the boundaries I give him.

Basically I give him a sponge and a bowl of water (a tiny bit of water goes a LONG way!).  Oh and squeezing the excess water out of the sponge is a lesson they need to be taught!  There are SO many tiny things that J needs to be taught that I completely overlook and this was one of them. 

I wouldn’t say J’s honed his mopping skills quite yet, but he loves to help and that’s what I want to encourage!

Age: started around 24 months

My Little Helper: Separating Utencils

J is becoming more and more involved in helping around the house. He already helps put away his sippy cups and even thinks its a fun game (see this post)!  I’ve recently started allowing him to replace the utencils too. 

23 months

I sit J down with the basket of clean utencils and the utencil tray.  Of course I first remove the knives!  His job is to replace the clean utencils in the correct section of the tray.  This is actually great practice with matching that really incorporates size recognition since he has to detect the difference in the small and large forks as well as the small and large spoons.  He doesn’t get it right everytime, but he is improving. 

I used to just have him hand me the clean utencils from the dishwasher and I would place them in the drawer myself.  When I read this post from Children’s Learning Activities, I realized he could easily complete the entire task himself!

By the way, it is also his job to place the dirty utencils in the basket to be placed in the dishwasher.  I rinse them off first and he takes care of the rest!  He feels like he’s accomplished something to help mommy and I didn’t have to bend over again and again to reach the dishwasher!

Age attempted: I don’t really remember when he started helping with the utencils, probably around 13 months; he started returning them to the utencil drawer himself at 22 months. 

Teachable moments:  We’ve talked about the difference in dirty and clean, why we have to clean our used dishes, the size of the different utencils, and of course working together as a family to help around the house!

Try Again?  :)

Empty Dishwasher (and learn while he’s at it!)

I always have J help me with the household chores.  I want to encourage him that we ALL take care of the things given to us; it’s a team effort.  So he helps with anything he is capable at that particular age.  Yeah, things may take a little longer and might not be done exactly right, but it’s definitely worth it. 

Putting away the clean dishes is one way he helps.  He currently helps sort the utencils back in the drawer, forks with forks, spoons with spoons (I remove the knives of course).  Then I place his sippy cups within his reach and he matches the correct size and color lid to each one so I can put them in the cabinet.  At first he didn’t always match them correctly but not he’s a pro.  It’s great practice especially since we have many different types of cups, all different colors and sizes.  He really loves this and is disappointed if he notices I do it without his help.  

22 months

 Age attempted:  We started this sometime around 16 months; he still does this now at 22 months

Try Again?  Yes; as he gets older I set out more cups and lids at a time to increase the difficulty