Louder, Softer Please

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At around a year and a half old, your toddler probably has one volume these days, and that volume is set on loud. Whether playing excitedly or having an epic meltdown, toddlers sure do know how to make noise. So here are a couple ideas for playing with dynamics, and teaching them when to be quieter!

First, we pulled out a variety of instruments that naturally lend themselves to dynamics. Drums were for loud, and soft maracas were for quiet noises.

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A fun song to sing for this game was Yankee Doodle because, well, he rides away on his horse! Starting loud, I drummed along during the first line:

“Yankee Doodle came to town riding on a pony!”

Then I dropped my voice to a whisper and shook a gentle maraca; Yankee Doodle was riding away.

“Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.”

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She joined in on the dynamics with sticks on the drums, and even shouted out “Loud!”

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Beyond just learning vocabulary, there are many benefits to teaching your toddler dynamics. Because we’re inside so much these days, I talked with Veronika about how we have two voices, just like she has two arms, two legs, two eyes, etc. The outside one can be loud!

We headed outside to find examples. Loud trucks! Loud birds! Loud airplanes! Veronika happily squealed along.

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Inside, I demonstrated a whisper instead. This was perfect for the “good night!” game my kids have taken to playing (which simply involves lying down on a pillow and saying “good night!” to each other.

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So Veronika is definitely starting to get the concept of loud vs. soft, and when to use each. Bonus points: if you teach these lessons now, you might just trick your kids into whispering while adults work from home during the coronavirus!

Kindergarten Home School Week 9: Friday

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Life threw us a curve ball today with baby sister under the weather. Honestly I’m amazed any school work got done with Travis at all, but we squeezed in a little.

9-9.15: Social Studies. After a workbook page about different stores in a neighborhood, I invited Travis to set up the store of his choosing. He opted for a toy store, and loved setting up baby sister’s toys to “sell”.

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9.15-9.30: Math. He did one math workbook page that skip-counted Ewoks, so then of course we needed to play skip-count hopscotch. (Simply make a hopscotch board where each jump is worth 2 points).

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9.30-10: Snack/free play.

10-10.15: Science. After an encyclopedia page and QR link about dinosaurs, we repeated an old favorite activity: visualizing how big dinosaurs really were with masking tape. Because we played indoors, we had to cap ourselves at the 30 foot stegosaurus.

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10.15-11: ELA. Following his teacher’s recommendation, we listened to two versions of the Three Little Pigs: one from the pigs’ point of view and the second from the wolf’s!

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Travis did a compare and contrast (what was the same, what was different). We then sequenced the story and made little puppets to act it out.

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For a little STEM extension, the idea was to build the house of bricks from Legos….though you may notice he veered off into Star Wars direction. Finally, Travis also did about 10 minutes on Lexia.

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That was it for the day; Travis enjoyed a movie, which was well-earned. He also had the special treat of an online session with a local high school student through a new town initiative. This was fantastic, and we were so thankful to our new buddy!

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Creamed Spinach

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This creamed spinach recipe manages to have all the creaminess kids love without relying on lots of butter or heavy cream. We particularly like it spooned atop a baked potato!


  • 1 (16-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 dinner roll
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons plain almond milk
  1. Chop the spinach, then add to a dry skillet over medium heat and cook for about 2 minutes, or until wilted.
  2. Transfer the spinach to blender or food processor, along with the dinner roll. Process until finely chopped.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, followed by the milk and the spinach mixture. Cook an additional few minutes until heated through.

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A Tape Road

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I’ve designed lots of little roads made from tape for the kids before, but this one was different: one big tape road that inspired all sorts of different ways to play!

For starters, Veronika loved watching me lay down long strips of tape, and loved running along them as I did so!

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Now she had a grand avenue that was just begging for our biggest toy cars to drive along it.

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Although smaller cars were fun, too!

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I added two stop signs at one “intersection” for a little early learning about road safety, though of course I didn’t expect Veronika to understand this part.

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These wide boulevards were also fantastic just for running along, a me-sized road!

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She then was busy driving her dolly stroller down it. It would be the perfect size for any ride-on kid cars, too. In sum, an easy and fun way to play indoors.

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