Bubble Wrap Roads and Runways

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Having recently made a tape road, today’s giant road for Veronika was made out of bubble wrap instead! First, I taped a long rectangle of bubble wrap to the kitchen floor, securing it with painter’s tape.

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I encouraged Veronika to stomp on it with her feet to pop the bubbles, but she doesn’t weigh quite enough. Thinking quickly, we pulled out her heavy doll carriage.

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Now she got to enjoy hearing that pop pop pop! She zoomed the carriage back and forth a few times.

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Since we had moved on to vehicles, I pulled out additional cars and trucks for her to roll over the bubble road.

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Then, to add to her “city”, I cut a cardboard box into several pieces so we could make it into more of a parking garage, including a ramp along one side.

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She loved vrooming her cars off the road and into this garage. The empty roll from the painter’s tape made a great tunnel!

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If you want to get really creative, add additional boxes and have the bubble wrap road go right up and over them!

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When the car play was done, we went back to using the bubble wrap as a runway for our bodies. I showed Veronika how to crawl on it, and her little knees were rewarded with bubble pops.

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Next she sat down and tried popping individual bubbles with her fingertips. This is great for muscle strengthening!

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Big brother Travis wanted a turn running along our runway, too!

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I taped down a second rectangle, thinking the kids might want to race side by side. If your kids are close in age, you could even turn this into a competition to see who pops all their bubbles first, or whose runway is the loudest.

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However you play, bubble wrap is a great way to get out some energy inside!

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Fun with Balls

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Today I gave Veronika a game with the easiest set up ever: balls + an empty muffin pan.

Having recently played with pom poms in a muffin tin, I knew she would like the concept. This time, I filled the tins of a standard 12 cup muffin pan with balls of various sizes. I included golf balls, tennis balls, and a few toy sensory balls.

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I deliberately left some of the compartments empty so she could transfer from one to another, making this almost like toddler whack-a-mole. She immediately got busy!

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I also placed a small box to the side so she could gather up the balls if she wanted to, but she preferred moving them either from tin to tin or directly onto the floor.

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She has never really played with tennis balls before, making these the most novel part of the game, and was delighted when she realized they bounce. So after that it became a game of chasing tennis balls all around the first floor of our apartment.

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What simple but pure fun!

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Take-Along Cereal Snack

Take Along Cereal Snack

Dried fruit adds a nutrition boost to plain old cereal, making this a great snack option for growing toddlers.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups o cereal (such as Cascadian Farm)
  • 1 cup diced dried apple
  • 1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberry pieces
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Transfer to smaller bags for individual on-the-go servings.

Lotion Smelling Sensory Activity

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Veronika has a current obsession with… lotion! I laugh when I think I might wind up with a girly girl, since she is certainly trending that way. Instead of saying no today to her requests for my lotions and creams, I gave her a few nearly empty bottles and let her go to town.

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There were several “learning” elements to this game. First, squeezing the tubes was great for strengthening her hands and fingers. I gave her a little container to aim for as she squeezed out the leftover lotion, though of course her aim wasn’t always spot on.

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Then there was the sensory element, both for smell and touch. We talked about the different scents, and I described each to her as I held a dab of up to her nose.

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Meanwhile she loves the way that lotion feels, busily rubbing it on her own arms and legs.

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Finally, there was the pure fun of making a mess. So before you toss a nearly empty bottle of lotion, consider building up a little collection for your toddler’s sensory play.

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Ring Fun

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Need a way to keep your toddler busy for a short while? Look no further than a few items you probably have in your kitchen cabinets: a wooden spoon, an empty container (or plastic bowl), and canning rings.

For set up, I cut a hole in the lid of a big yogurt container so the handle of the wooden spoon could fit through it. Press play dough into the bottom of the container and wedge in the spoon so it doesn’t wobble around, then secure the lid.

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I presented this apparatus to Veronika with the canning rings already piled on. So her first task was to slip one off!

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She loved this, and immediately pulled up the top three or four. She discovered that if she slid up one from lower in the pile, the ones above it toppled off the handle at the same time and made a spectacularly loud crash! This was a delight.

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Then she turned her focus to putting them back on the handle.

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“Circle!” she said, recognizing the shape, and started counting them as she slid them on or off.

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Like so many projects at this age, the game then veered in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. But sometimes toddlers know best! When she reached the bottom of the ring pile and could peer down into the container, she noticed the play dough holding the spoon in place.

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Well now she needed the lid off! She loved squishing the spoon into the play dough.

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Then it became a game of toddler field hockey, whacking the blob of play dough around the room.

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She was so proud when she could scoop the play dough up and drop it back into the container. Goal! So really, we got two games for the price of one.

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Kindergarten Home School Week 11: Friday

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TGIF! We can’t believe there are only three weeks of kindergarten home school left to go. Have a great weekend everyone.

9-9.30: Science. We started off the day talking about animal habitats. After a few workbook pages featuring animals of the night, in a meadow, etc. we went upstairs to raid the stuffed animal pile.

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I had Travis help sort these based on where they might live. Then he went on a flashlight safari¬†for a few that I’d hidden around the room, a classic favorite game around here.

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9.30-10: Math. Next up was an overview of the foot as a unit of measurement. We talked about how this differs from a person’s foot, creating a standardized unit. Then we used a nonstandard measurement to compare items around the house.

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Travis wanted to use Lego heads, and we checked out how these “measured up” against a ruler. It turns out computer paper is 29 Lego heads long!

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10-10.30: Snack/recess. We played around with opposites outside.

10.30-11: ELA. Travis did a writing page that focused on the long e sound, and did a unit on Lexia.

11-11.30: Maps. We talked about common map symbols like those for a post office or hospital. His teacher had provided a few worksheets we could look at.

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11.30-1.30: Lunch/free play.

1.30-2: Weather. We headed outside to make rainbows! Okay this doubled as recess, too.

It was an early start to the weekend thereafter; little sister had a music class, and Travis got in social time with his high school buddy over Zoom.

Outdoor Opposites

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For both some fresh air and some learning, Travis and I played opposites in the yard today! The goal of the game was that if I did one thing, he had to do the opposite action.

So when I jumped high, he crouched low.

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Then when I ran fast, he moved slow like through molasses. Next, I encouraged him to be the leader. It took a few tries before he became creative with the game, but soon we were playing around with loud/soft, under/over, in front of/behind etc.

What opposites can your child think of? Please share in the comments!

Guess the Scent

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Veronika is at that age where she’s a bit of a nuisance while I prep dinner, so I needed a quick activity to keep her busy. I decided to involve her in a culinary way tonight, instead of simply distracting her. This game is not only great for building vocabulary about different foods, but doubles as sensory play.

I set out little paper cups full of strongly scented items, including the following: cinnamon, black pepper, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and popcorn. I also included a cut lemon.

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I held each one to Veronika’s nose and encouraged her to smell, telling her the name of each food as I did so. The cinnamon got a grin.

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The black pepper was immediately pushed back. “No!” she told me.

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Older toddlers can make this more of a guessing game, closing their eyes and telling you what they smell. With younger toddlers, expect some mess. Of course Veronika wanted to dump out all the paper cups, so we soon had a strangely-scented mixture that she could mash about on the tray.

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Before I could stop her, she took a nibble.

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Oh no, I half expected tears! But then she told me, “I like it”. Well, there could be worse combinations than black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate.

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Then she needed to lick the lemon, so this activity turned into more of a tasting experiment than I had intended. But I love watching when a toddler takes a game in their own direction.

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Next time I wouldn’t do this during dinner prep; it turned out to be quite a mess! But at least it kept her busy while food was in the oven.

Make a Rainbow

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All you need for this little science trick is a hose and a sunny day. We’ve had early hot weather that made us pull out the sprinkler, but it’s also been overcast. Luckily this afternoon the sun poked through!

I set up a sprinkler with flower attachments that spray a fine mist. The mist will make it more likely to spot a rainbow, so if you don’t have any sort of hose attachment, you’ll need to use your thumb to change the flow of water.

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Now aim in the direction of your shadow. A rainbow will appear! This was magical for my toddler, and of course scientific for a my kindergartner. Travis understood that the water was bending the light from the sun and breaking it apart into the full spectrum of colors in a rainbow.

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Then just have fun in the sprinkler of course!

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Treasure Jars

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Toddlers love little jars, toddlers love lids, and toddlers love surprises. This activity ticks off all 3 boxes!

I had a few old baby food jars that were rinsed and cleaned, with the labels off, and I knew they would make perfect little “treasure boxes” for Veronika.

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I filled each jar with a small item for her to discover, aiming to make them as varied as possible. Two contained small toys (a plastic dinosaur and a Duplo figure), one was more sensory (fluffy pom poms), and one was a yummy treat (cereal to snack on).

She immediately wanted the lids off. I had left them loose, so she was quite pleased to discover she could twist them off herself.

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She was well rewarded.

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“Cereal!” she declared after opening the first, and immediately began snacking.

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Her exploration continued. “Ooh, pom poms!” she said, peering deep inside. The two toys got a similar reaction. What could this be?

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A dinosaur!

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Then she discovered she could put the lids on and trap the toys, and do it all over again. Another toddler favorite: repetition!

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For added sensory fun, we shook the jars. The Duplo was loud and the pom poms were very quiet. “Shh,” she said.

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Then of course she practiced dumping everything out.

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Picking up cereal pieces and transferring them back into a jar was great for her pincer grip development. Little jars like this are fantastic, and you can leave some around for solo play any time.

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Since the baby food jars were glass, I made sure Veronika played over a padded surface. If you’re using plastic jars instead, leave them anywhere around the house! They can be “discovered” and played with over and over again.

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If your toddler is older, make the containers harder to get into, like those with a zipper or buckle closure.