Make Your Own Building Blocks

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I have a preschooler who definitely needed attention this morning, and it’s a good thing I had a game waiting in the wings! For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been saving old food boxes (cereal cartons, cracker boxes, tea, etc.) in various shapes and sizes, and now it was time to put them to multiple uses!

First we had to cover the blocks in wrapping paper, which Travis loved, especially helping with the tape. We decided we liked using brown craft paper best, although solid colored wrapping paper would be fine.

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Travis immediately took to stacking the boxes, so proud of his creations!

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Pretty soon thereafter it was Batman’s fortress.

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I took the time to draw house details – doors and windows – and we set up a cute Duplo main street…

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…but this didn’t interest him for long.

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A much bigger hit was… box bowling!

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Set up the boxes and take aim.

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Next, we took our stacking to the next level by adding cups.

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It was a neat architectural challenge to encourage him to use paper cups in between each box layer.

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You can also make the blocks more educational. Can you sort the boxes by size, for example?

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Or, turn them over and write the letters of your child’s name, one per box. I was so proud of how quickly Travis had his letters in the right order!

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Finally, have some good, silly fun. We made a fort and threw cup bombs at each other. Who knew you could do so much with a few boxes?

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Black and White

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Babies eyes develop much later than their sense of smell (which is finely attuned already in utero!). At birth, they can only focus about 8 to 10 inches away, and are best at seeing sharp contrasts. That’s why babies love black and white.

Veronika goes nuts when I position her in front of a black and white image. She’ll stare transfixed for a good fifteen minutes, an eternity in infant-time.

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You can show a graphic image from a book.

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Or check your local library for board books deliberately written for this purpose. I highly recommend Black on White and White on Black, both by Tana Hoban. She also makes a fold-out version that’s perfect for tummy time.

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Or placed around the bassinet. Either way, let your little one get looking!

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What’s Hanging?

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At a day shy of two weeks old, Veronika does a lot of lying on her back and just looking. So I wanted to give her something visual as stimulation!

A game I found suggested installing a plant hook over a baby’s crib, but this wasn’t practical for several reasons; we rent our home, rather than own it, and I didn’t want to screw hooks into the ceiling. Also, these days she’s usually in her bassinet, wheeling about the apartment, and not often in her crib.

Instead, I re-purposed an old mobile hook, attaching it to the side of the bassinet. From the hook at the top, you can suspend multiple items that your infant might enjoy looking at.

Scarves were great, especially because they blow in the breeze when you aim a fan at them!

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We also tried Christmas decorations…

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…and a stuffed animal.

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Anything bright with sharp contrast is great for this age. What’s hanging above your child’s crib? Do be sure to remove all objects or mobiles once a baby is old enough to reach for them.