Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

February 3, 2012

Friday Feature: Melissa and Doug Puzzles

Filed under: Learning — by dsuzuki @ 4:50 am
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There are only a handful of products I love enough that I really suggest to friends and family so I thought what better way to spread the word than mentioning here.  So for the next few Fridays I am hoping to highlight some of my favorite products for families with kids. Note: I either purchased these items, borrowed or was given them as gifts from families and friends.

Today I wanted to high light the Melissa and Doug puzzles and in particular the alphabet and number puzzles.

My daughter received the number puzzle as a gift when she was 2 or 3 and she really enjoyed it.  Especially since when you put the number back in it’s spot it actually talks.  Where it has really amazed me is with my 18 month old.  He absolutely adored this puzzle and was able to count to 10 by around 14 or 15 months and able to put them all in their correct spots.  Now he’s gotten to 11 and 12 and can say some of the higher numbers although he still sometimes gets confused and will say “one one” or “one two”.  My parents were so impressed by how much this puzzle helped that they bought him the alphabet version and my son quickly took to it as well.  He knows most of his alphabet now and I credit that mostly to the sight words dvd and my father working with him playing with these two puzzles.

No matter how many times I put these puzzles away in the toy closet my son always pulls them out to keep them on his table and constantly brings me various letters to tell me what they are.  He also points out various letters on the covers of books I am reading or in the newspaper.  In general I love Melissa and Doug puzzles but if you have to pick just one or two I would definitely suggest these two.

Other featured products:

Sight Words from Preschool Prep

January 10, 2012

Potions Lab

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 8:00 am
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This winter has been amazingly mild and not much rain in comparison to past winters so the kids were bursting to go outside and play with water (one of their favorite activities).  It was still a tad cold so I decided to make a mini potions lab using some warm water, different containers and food coloring.

The spray bottles were something relatively new to them so of course they went for those first.  Kaitlyn sprayed the water into the empty container and we compared the sound it made hitting the empty container vs when it started to fill up and was hitting water.

That was too slow for both kids so I uncapped the rest of the containers and let them start mixing things up.  I had a recycled Nesquik milk bottle, an empty olive oil plastic bottle, a plastic Snapple drink bottle, a condiment bottle and then gave them a couple funnels, a colander, mixing bowl and plastic eye droppers that my brother and his wife gave Kaitlyn for Christmas.  Both kids quickly got into the spirit of mixing the colors together and I found it funny that Michael kept insisting on trying to put the top of the eye dropper into the water instead of the tip.  Every once in awhile he would squeeze it just right that a jet of water would shoot out and spray someone without him even realizing it.

Kaitlyn initially started off mixing the colors slowly to see how the color would change but eventually it just turned into how fast could she start transferring water from one container to another.

The condiment bottle was another favorite as Kaitlyn found if she squeezed it really hard the water would shoot out really fast.

As always happens all the water ends up mixed together in one container and we were wrapping up the play when Kaitlyn begged to do the volcano experiment again.  Since daddy missed out the last time we did it she called him over and showed him how it worked.

Then the kids got a few more splashes in and off to the bath tub they went since the volcano experiment called for vinegar and both kids had hands that reeked of it.

January 9, 2012

Get Out and Play-Outdoor version of “angry birds”

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 5:42 am
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Since my parents bought our family an iPad2 for a group Christmas gift Kaitlyn has been hooked on Angry Birds.  I don’t want her to spend too much time on the computer and she loves being outside so I was trying to think of a fun way to bring Angry Birds to her without being in front of a computer screen.  Well, remember those cardboard boxes I mentioned that we had piled up from my online Christmas shopping?  They wouldn’t all fit in the recycling bin so they were piled up outside waiting for the next pick up.  I decided to start stacking them up and placing some of the kids’ foam bowling pins on them and let them have at it.

She loved it and was so excited.  She even got into making her own set ups with the boxes and pins.

My son also really got into it as he started off innocently enough picking up the balls she threw…

Then he decided it was a fun obstacle course…

Then it quickly turned into could Kaitlyn knock down the pins before he disassembled the boxes and ran off with the pins and boxes?

It was so much fun to do and it kept the kids occupied for a long time.  So if you need something to get the kids outside and away from the computer why not give it a try?  I think I’m actually going to miss the cardboard boxes when they are gone.

January 8, 2012

Light Table and Glow In The Dark Hide & Seek

Last year I made a cheap version of a light table using a plastic container, lined it with card board box scraps, put 3 tap lights inside and then taped some wax paper to the lid to diffuse the light a little.  It’s not the prettiest but it’s functional.  My daughter is still afraid of the dark so I’ve been trying to encourage her to get used to being in the dark so I whipped out the light table the other night.

For Christmas my daughter got this great magnet set from one of my best friends so I pulled out the translucent chips to let her and my 18 month old play with.  They both loved it.  I was storing them in a glass container and had a few smaller jars that I picked up from Ikea to store beads and other smaller items.  My daughter enjoyed sorting the different color tiles into different jars, mixing different colors together to see what color they would make and making pictures out of the circles.

My parents and I have been trying to work on colors with my son since unlike numbers, letters & sight words that he picked up with no problem he seems to be struggling with colors.  To him everything is blue.  So I tried pulling out different color tiles and going over the colors with him.  He quickly tired of this and instead preferred picking up each tile, putting it into a jar and then pouring one jar of tiles into another.  Not exactly what I had in mind but still it was great for his fine motor skills to pick up the tiles and get them into the relatively small mouth of the jar.  I was actually surprised how well he did pouring the tiles from one jar to another and how long it kept him fascinated.

Then my husband decided to break out the light sticks and I remembered an activity I saw on Pinterest about a glow in the dark hide and seek game.  I blew up a few balloons and stuck a light stick in each.  I didn’t turn on the flash so you can only see the light sticks in the picture but both kids loved throwing the balloons around in the dark and chasing after them using the glow sticks to find them.  One of the balloons had 2 glow sticks in them and that one looked really cool flying through the air.

Then I had my husband go into the living room and “hide” a few more glow sticks for the kids to find.  This is a picture with the flash on as my daughter found the first glow stick.

Once all of them were found we all joined in the fun of watching the effect of shaking the glow sticks around really fast.

This was my son’s favorite part and he was shaking that stick so fast and crazy I thought he was either going to knock someone out or at least poke an eye out.

These activities didn’t totally cure my daughter’s fear of the dark but at least she’s willing to try things with the lights turned out now and actually asks to play glow in the dark hide and seek now.  So maybe after awhile she will get used to it.  And if not at least we all had some fun with some new activities.

January 3, 2012

Clean Mud Outdoor Activity

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 2:30 pm
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I saw this pin about clean mud on Pinterest so had to try it out since my kids love to get down and dirty in the mud but of course it’s…well…dirty.  We never did get it to feel just like mud in my opinion (maybe not enough toilet paper?) but the kids still had a blast.  All we needed was a couple bins, water, dish detergent and toilet paper.  It did pain me to use toilet paper but they ended up not using very much and still had a great time.

I started each one out with their own tub so there wouldn’t be any arguing.

My son didn’t know what to make of the wet toilet paper and kept squishing it and throwing it out onto the grass which was kind of cute and funny to watch.

Since it was the holidays I decided to add a little Christmas cheer with food coloring.

Just in case you missed it I have to stress this is definitely an outdoor activity because as you can expect eventually they start pouring the water back & forth. So I gave them a bottle and a funnel for added fun.

Then of course you end up with this…

Which is not necessarily a bad thing because then they thought it was fun to “clean” the patio.

We ended the outdoor play with me spraying the patio down with a hose and the two of them running in front of the hose and getting soaking wet.  So I had to strip them down and take them straight into a warm bath.  So maybe a good idea if you need to get your kids into the bath tub 🙂