Hammering Golf Tees

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Here’s a safe way for a toddler to take a first try at using a hammer and nails, just like the grown-ups! Simply use a Styrofoam board as a base and large colorful golf tees as the “nails”.

I set out the board and first showed Veronika how to poke the tips of the tees in. This took a surprising bit of strength, and after her first few popped back up, she was soon an expert at it!

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Next I showed her how to use her toy hammer to hammer the tees in the rest of the way. She quickly picked up this step of the game, too.

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Truly you can just let your toddler have fun with all the items from here. If you want to guide the play a little bit more, try forming a few simple patterns from different color tees (“Green, orange, pink!” she noticed), or name the colors as you hammer them, or count each tee as your toddler hammers.

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Mostly, I let her play solo. It turned out Veronika was way more interested in taking the tees in and out of the Styrofoam, and less interested in the hammer, but that was fine too.

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It took quite a bit of her concentration and strength, so I was proud watching her!

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When she tired of that, leftover tees were fun to play with (under supervision) or tap together like rhythm sticks for a little music play.

Skating Party

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When ice cubes melt against a slippery surface like metal, they start to naturally slip and slide around. Turn that little scientific fact into a “skating party” by freezing small plastic animals in the ice ahead of time!

I filled an ice cube tray with water and then after about 2 hours, when the cubes had started to set but weren’t frozen solid, I pressed a toy animal into the top of each. A set of arctic animals fit nicely with the icy winter theme. I wish I’d had a few penguins to include, too! Let freeze completely overnight.

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At first I set these out on a plastic tray, where Veronika was immediately delighted to see favorite animals in the ice. But it quickly became apparent that we needed a metal cookie sheet for them to “skate”.

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The ice started to melt almost immediately once we made that switch, and just a gentle tap of the finger sends your animals “skating”.

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Veronika’s favorite was the snow hare, which she hopped and skated all about. Travis loved making the animals take wild skating spins across the tray.

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He also wanted to try freeing them from the ice, another oldie-but-goodie ice game.

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And we all laughed at the way the ice animals could spin and move.

In sum, a fun quick activity before even heading off to school!

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Book Busy Box

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Yes, a book box can keep a toddler busy, even if he or she is not reading yet! To wit, we love taking books for “picture walks” in our household, and today I set up this little bin to keep Veronika occupied while I got a few things done.

I included some of big brother Travis’s early chapter books because she loves the pictures of Star Wars characters (she knows them all by name!) even if she doesn’t understand the story.

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I also included more age-appropriate favorites, like her Hello magazine and favorite board books. It’s a good idea to use books that you’ve read to your child many times so he or she is familiar with the story, even if you’re too busy to read it.

Finally, I included a set of magnet tiles that tell the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This was a nice way to give her something to manipulate with her hands, in addition to just books. Now I set out the bin on a comfy orange chair as a sort of invitation, and she jumped right in!

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The Star Wars books caught her eye right away.

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Soon she was leafing through a favorite board book, narrating the pictures and words to herself.

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This is the kind of bin you can leave out all day for your toddler to return to whenever the mood hits.

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What would be in your toddler’s book box? Please share in the comments!

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