Category Archives: Textures

Homemade Game: What’s In the Stocking?

We played this fun and simple game and ever since J has been bringing me the stocking and asking to play again. 

How to Play:  Gather a group of items from around the house with different shapes, textures, and purpose.  Older children could handle more suddle differences in the objects.  Keep them hidden from sight.  Place one item in a Christmas stocking and have your little one feel inside and make a guess at what the item is.  I encouraged J to describe the item as he felt it to help him make an educated guess. 

This is so simple, no reason not to try it!  With older kids you could even make this a game you play on Christmas morning.  Younger ones might have a hard time with guessing items they’ve haven’t seen yet. 

This is great for exploring textures, using simple deductive reasoning, and practicing descriptive words.

Last night we reversed rolls.  He hid things inside and brought me the stocking to make a guess.  It actually worked great while I was cooking.  It kept him well occupied.  Every few minutes I heard, “Mommy no peeking! Just look!”  (What he meant was, “no peeking, just feel”).  Of course it took him awhile to realize he should let me make a guess before he told me what it was.  He was just so excited!

Age attempted: 31 months (certainly can be done earlier!)

**I’m even categorizing this as a good travel activity since a similar version could easily be done in the car or on a plane.  Just use a bag or the seat-back pocket on the plane.

Leaf Sorting Pictures

This was an activity J did sometime during the summer when we were talking about how God created the plants.  It was simple yet effective and included very little prep work! My favorite :)

During a morning walk, we gathered a group of leaves from a few different trees (or bushes; J was adamant we chose a certain leaf from a bush!).  When we got home we examined the different kinds of leaves we chose.  How many points do they have?  Shape? Color?  Smooth or rough? 

Sorry for the dark photo. My normal camera was packed away in a boz so I used my iphone.

Then I mixed all the leaves together, cut out three tree trunks (we used 3 different types of leaves) and J sorted the leaves to replicate the three different trees. 

He did this activity on contact paper since I wasn’t sure if glue would hold the leaves in place quickly enough. I imagined a mess honestly and didn’t have time for one this day. :)

Age attempted: between 2 and 2.5 years

My Little Chef: Avocado Black Bean Salsa

I have no clue where I got this recipe, but it’s great for toddlers and really pretty healthy. 

Avocado Black Bean Salsa

INGREDIENTS
1 avocado
1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 tomato (diced)
cilantro to taste
salt to taste
lime to taste

DIRECTIONS

Basically mix all ingredients together until you get the flavor you like.  The amounts can definitely be changed according to your own tastes! 

I serve this in tortillas, like a burrito, or in pita bread for lunch.  I’ve served it as a dip with tortilla chips for an afternoon snack (when I thought J needed an extra serving of fruits or proteins).  You can easily add some finely chopped spinach (precooked) for veggies or diced chicken.  It would also go well with Triscuit crackers I think.  J loves it.  I love it. 

24 months

Today it dawned on me that it’s an easy enough recipe that J could help (and pretty much make it entirely himself).  I just cut up the tomatoes and the avocado before he joined me.  He dipped the avocado into a bowl, added the beans and tomatoes and stirred them all together.  I didn’t have fresh lime or cilantro, so he squeezed some lime juice out of a bottle and shook the cilantro out of the spice container.  We added the salt together (so he wouldn’t shake the entire jar into the dip!).  He could even spoon the salsa onto the tortilla and help roll it up! 

The reward is immediate, so there’s no question in his mind that he helped create the meal. 

As a side note, I included a little science with today’s cooking too.  I happened to have an extra avocado and tomato, so I kept them out for him to feel.  We described the textures of the fruits and then I showed him what the inside of each looked like (pointed out the color, the texture, the seeds in each). 

Homemade Toys: Texture Cards

I made these texture cards for J sometime around 10 months to bring with us on plane trips.  I reserved them for those special trips, stored in a ziploc, so that they would keep their novelty.  J loved them.  He has since mostly lost interest in them at 23 months (though he does still like the one with buttons).  But they definitely served their purpose.   The cards are made of cardstock.  They survived pretty well, though I can see the benefit to laminating them (it would have to be done before the texture was added I guess).  You could even use thick cardboard to make them stronger.  There have been a few that have found their home in the trash. 

In choosing textures, I basically went through the house and found interesting textures (that would be fairly easy to attach to the cardstock… I was is a rush!).  I really didn’t get very creative with my textures, but J was still entertained! You’ll notice quiet a few cards with puffy stickers and foam stickers (especially easy to make!), buttons, sponge, styrofoam, post it tabs, duct tape flaps (I created windows and placed a sticker behind the window), fabric, clear plastic, net, …  The only one I can remember that isn’t pictured is the velcro card.  J still really likes this card too since it is interactive (he could remove and replace the velcro pieces).  It’s somewhere around the house, I just can’t find it for the picture! :)

The back side of the texture cards don’t look so pretty.  I covered a lot of the back sides with packing tape or duct tape.  In hind site, I could’ve created duct tape flaps on the back of all the cards so that they would be double sided. 

To create prettier cards, you could cut larger pieces of the cardstock, attach the texture, fold the card in half and glue them shut. 

Age attempted:  about 10 months -17 months

Teachable moments:  discuss what’s special about each texture/surface :)  (smooth, shiny, bumpy, squishy, crinkly, …)

Try Again?  At 23 months, I’ll soon be trying more advanced texture cards and make a game out of it (similar to this activity on Children’s Learning Activities)

Vroom Vroom Pudding Painting

17 months

Today I decided to pass the time making a big huge mess. We painted with pudding on the kitchen floor…well on butcher paper taped onto the kitchen floor.  I turned it in a whole afternoon event, first we made the pudding together (and the mess started).  It’s a great cooking activity with quick results!

Then I stripped him down to his diaper, taped some butcher paper onto the floor and set out a plate of pudding with some of his toy cars.  We drove the cars through the pudding and then down the paper.  After awhile we painted with our fingers (and yeah, I had to show him to use his fingers since he tends to be a pretty clean little boy).

This is a great form of finger painting even when they’re little since it’s completely edible.  J is not one to put anything and everything into his mouth, so he actually didn’t even realize the paint was so tasty until maybe 15 minutes into the activity.  Of course once tasted, the painting was temporarily halted (until his belly was full).  He absolutely loved pudding paint. He did some slipping and sliding, got a sugar rush, and creating a big mess.  All the makings for a perfect afternoon!

Clean up was interesting. Lesson learned: have a plan to get baby from kitchen to tub w/o tracking pudding through the whole house (or all over my clothes). We ended up taking a quick bath in the kitchen sink and then finished upstairs in the tub.

See the mess I had on my hands!

Age Attempted:  17 months; could be done earlier since the paint is edible

Try Again?  It does take some prep and there is obvious clean up with this activity but I think it’s worth it for a special activity every few months

Whip Cream Painting

I planned an entire day of fun for J’s first birthday.  We live far from all family and knew that we wouldn’t have a big party for J, but I still wanted it to be special.  Whip Cream painting is one of the activities that he did that day.  I made some homemade whip cream, tried coloring it with blueberries and rasberries (I forgot to buy food coloring!) which worked… a little.  I stripped J down to his diaper, sat him in his highchair and put a spoonful of each color on his tray.  He was a little confused at first (this was one of the first times he was in the highchair aside from mealtime) and just slowly tested the waters with one finger.  Eventually he was had the whole tray covered, as well as his belly and his hair; he liked to fill his hand with it and then make it squish out by making a fist.  Of course he tasted it too, which in this case was perfectly ok.  It’s basically a texture activity for him, a chance for him to experiment and explore something new. 

My little guy does not normally like getting dirty, so it’s good for him to experience it every now and then!

Age: 12 months

Try Again?  I haven’t repeated this same activity again, though he would’ve enjoyed it I’m sure.  I have done other texture painting activities since this.

Homemade Toy: Fabric Colors and Texture Box for Babies

I gathered a collection of fabric swatches with vibrant colors and a wide range of textures, stuffed them in a wipee box and let J at it.  We could talk about the different textures/colors as he pulled them out or he could just have fun emptying and filling the box. 

Age? Started around 8 months

Try Again?  This was just a toy always available to him for a few months; It probably lost it’s intrigue after a few months

Homemade Toy: Endless Scarf

You know that magic trick where the scarf just keeps coming?  Apparently magicians need to be using this trick on infants.  They love it. 

Tie a bunch of scarves/rags/fabric pieces together and stuff them in an empty tissue box (or wipee box is even better since it encourages them to open and close the lid).  At first, let a little hang out of the box to encourage them to pull. 

Age?  I think he first did this around 8 months

Try Again?  This just became a toy always available to him.  It lasted a couple months.