New Gurgles and Coos

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If you’re following along with my baby activity journey, then you’re already engaging in “conversation” with your little one, and actively encouraging those gurgles and coos. Today’s activity takes it to the next level.

To foster the link between different sounds and actual words, listen closely to what your baby says today. When Veronika said “geh!” for example, I would respond, “That’s right, you’re a girl,” or “Yes, you’re wearing green,” or anything else beginning with a hard g sound.

Same goes for her adorable m’s (“milk! mama!”) or b’s (“brother! bubble”).

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This is also a good way to get older siblings “talking” to baby, especially if they’re frustrated at the lack of real words yet. Listen hard, and string together ideas for him orher.

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You can also have fun with vocal sounds in general today. In addition to words, make new noises like clicking tongues and see if your baby responds. Veronika’s not so sure about that tongue clicking!

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Truth be told, Veronika clams up a lot in our house (with Travis around, it’s hard to get a word in edgewise!) so usually she opens up to me when we’re quiet and alone during… diaper changes. But after we made a point of this game all morning, I caught her narrating play on her playmat, talking up a storm to her little toys.

 

It was hard to catch the moment on camera, but here she is working on some “m” sounds.

 

Introduce Peekaboo

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No doubt you’ve played peekaboo with your baby; by three months old, hasn’t every child engaged in this game at least once? It’s funny that this is one of the first games we instinctively play with babies, but there’s a good reason for it. Babies don’t yet understand that someone who leaves will come back (otherwise known as object permanence), so “disappearing” behind your hands for a moment and then quickly coming back helps cement the idea that a beloved caretaker exists, even when not in sight.

So with that science lesson out of the way, have some fun with peekaboo today!

To combine peekaboo with hand control, you can put a light scarf or towel over your face, then encourage or help baby to pull it free. Peekaboo, there’s mommy! The more surprised I acted, the greater Veronika’s enjoyment of the game.

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You can also get stuffed animal friends in on the game, covering gently with a scarf and then having a big reveal.

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We also played with flap books for extra peekaboo action. Where are the chicks? Peekaboo!

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Finally, I love playing peekaboo at the diaper table. A (clean!) diaper makes a perfect peekaboo toy. Hold the diaper up over your face, then – surprise! – reappear with a big smile. This one in particular gets a giggle from Veronika every time.

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Paper Nail Salon

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It took a while for my four-year-old, but Travis is just now learning to color in the lines instead of scribbling willy-nilly, and he’s so proud. Since we’ve also been learning lots about the body lately, I thought this clever little activity would combine the two nicely – some anatomy about the hand, as well as a chance to hone those coloring skills.

I printed a hand template rather than attempting to draw one from scratch, and cut out about 5 or 6 hands for him, drawing fingernails onto each.

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You can have a quick chat about nails before the coloring begins, too, like how our nails never stop growing or other fun factoids.

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Now for the artsy part; the challenge was to “polish” each nail, staying as near to the lines as he could.

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Travis was up to the task! He loved picking a color for each hand, like gray or pink or blue.

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And then of course because glitter glue makes everything more fun, we decided to add glitter glue jewelry to some of the hands.

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And since Travis likes to get impish these days, some of our salon patrons soon found themselves covered in “goop.”

Big kids might want to get really artistic with their nail designs! You can stick to markers, or, let them use real polish. For one special hand, I traced the hand shape onto thick cardstock and let him actually swipe on a coat of polish.

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Cute and fun, of a quiet morning!

Sprinkle-of-Love Cake

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Moment of truth: This cake didn’t turn out quite as intended, no thanks to a chocolate cake layer that didn’t set right in the pan! So what was originally intended as a two-layer cake with cut-out hearts turned into a single-layer cake with sprinkled hearts on top…But we loved it anyway! Any way you slice it, this is a sweet cake to bake for your Valentine’s this week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-inch round) chocolate cake, cooled
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce freeze-dried raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • Sprinkles
  1. Bake the cake ahead of time, whether it’s your favorite recipe from scratch or one made from a vegan mix (such as Cherrybrook Kitchen). Set aside.
  2. Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat at low speed until combined. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Pulse the raspberries in a food processor until finely ground. Fold into the powdered sugar mixture, along with the milk.
  4. Place the cake layer on a plate, and frost with 1/2 cup frosting. Reserve the remaining frosting for another use.
  5. Place a heart-shaped cookie cutter on top of the cake, and gently tap in a layer of sprinkles. Pink or red ones would be ideal, but the organic sprinkles we had on hand were multicolored, which worked in a pinch. Repeat with as many hearts on top as you’d like to make.

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Serve with a spoonful of love!

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Tasty Toes

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Unless your child grows up to be a troupe member in Cirque du Soleil, chances are this is the only time that he or she will ever be able to get his or her toes into the mouth. So encourage this adorable action, and let them enjoy!

This morning, I pointed out her toes to Veronika, drawing attention to the lower digits by feeling them, naming them, and wiggling her toes for her.

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Next, I encouraged her to touch her toes, handing a foot to her just like I do with a toy. She held on right away!

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Gently bend your child’s legs until the feet are near the mouth. Nibble nibble!

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There are lots of other fun ways to draw attention to those cute toesies. Later in the day, we played games like “This Little Piggy”.

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Mid-afternoon, I caught her playing with her toes all by herself! Who knew feet could be so fun?

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What is a Landmark?

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We’re only in our second month of a subscription to Raddish Kids, but I continue to be impressed with the company’s thorough lesson plans to accompany each recipe. I mentioned last month that the lessons are meant for everyone from preschoolers through big kids, so you’ll need to adapt and adjust accordingly. To wit, I worried Travis wouldn’t get much out of a lesson on French landmarks (to go along with the French dessert we baked), but boy was I wrong!

The idea is to learn about the Eiffel Tower specifically, and then follow-up with a discussion of landmarks in general. So we started with a video clip about the Tower.

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Travis had so many questions right away: Could you really go to the top? What was the tower made of? How did they light it up at night? He was even more amazed when I pulled out a few old photos from my own trip up to the top!

Next, we looked at pictures of other landmarks. I selected some from a travel magazine, and showed him a mix of man-made (the Great Wall of China) and natural (the White Cliffs of Dover). Now it was time to ask him to define a landmark based on what he saw.

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This was a tricky question for a preschooler, but he decided it was something you built. I pointed back to the cliffs again, and we settled on this definition: anything that can be easily recognized, that marks a specific location.

We explored further with a fantastic STEM activity, encouraging kids to build replicas of famous landmarks. Duplo was a natural medium for my preschooler, and he loved the challenge.

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Here is our little Eiffel Tower, replete with a tourist on top!

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We also tackled London Bridge, the Parthenon, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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Big kids can get super creative with these, in a wide variety of materials, and aim to be much more exact.

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From here, older children can go on to make a brochure, travel blog, or model of any landmark they choose. But Raddish’s suggestion for young kids was to keep things closer to home. I’ll be honest: If I didn’t have a three-month-old, I would have taken Travis to a world-famous landmark in nearby New York City, like the State of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

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But since that was out of the cards, I asked Travis if he could think of a landmark in our little town, and was so proud when he remembered the bell we pass ever day en route to school, part of a Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building.

So off we went on a frigid morning for a few pics!

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Travis loves using our instant camera, so was a happy participant despite temps in the teens.

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We came home and wove it all together by making a brochure. I showed him a few examples, and soon he was gluing pictures down proudly.

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In sum, this was definitely an advanced social studies lesson for a preschooler, but I’m glad we accepted the challenge to tackle it. Travis learned so much, and we had a blast in the process.

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My Punny Valentine Tacos

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It’s the second year that Travis and I are on the hook to produce Valentine’s cards for all his classmates, and we turned once more to Parents magazine. This year, all of the Valentine’s Day cards featured cute puns about food. I asked Travis to pick his favorite, so tacos it was!

First we traced circles onto yellow cardstock. You want the circles to be about 5 inches across, so a DVD makes the perfect item to trace. Travis was so proud that he traced all 20 of the ones we made, his circles getting neater and neater each time.

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Next we folded the circles in half. Be sure to make a nice crease

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Fill one half of the “taco shell” with glue, and press on green shredded paper. Travis was so into this material, since we’ve never used it before. Let dry.

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Our counter was starting to look like a taco stand!

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Once the “lettuce” dried, we add a few red “tomatoes” to each taco – with red heart stickers of course.

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On the front of each taco shell, I wrote out “Taco ’bout a good friend! Love Travis”. Note: You can also write this on the inside of the shell, if preferred.

Travis was so excited about this project, and proud that we had shells, lettuce, and tomatoes in our tacos. We can’t wait to give them to the class!

 

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What are you making for Valentine’s Day this year? Please share in the comments.

 

 

Welcome to My World

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The task today: to see the world as your three-month-old does! This sweet little exercise will have you understanding your baby’s world a little better, as well as provide you with sweet mementos.

To start the fun, I needed my instant camera. I got down in places where Veronika spends most of her time and prepared to snap some pics.

It was actually really illuminating to be on my back in her little playgym, staring up at all the toys dangling and the ceiling high above. As adults, we don’t tend to stare at the ceiling very often!

Next I took photos from upward angles in her bassinet, diaper table, swing, and car seat. Her view is indeed different from a grown-ups, and the toys all seemed so much bigger.

Big siblings may enjoy helping with the game, since it can provide understanding of a pre-verbal little brother or sister. I encouraged Travis to take pictures of some of her toys, at the angle that Veronika sees them.

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Here’s his take on how she sees some toys, and our kids’ table.

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He also snapped mommy lying down on the floor, trying to get the best three-month-old vantage point, ha.

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In addition, make sure to get a few snaps of things your baby loves the most right now – favorite toys, favorite places to sit, etc. These are sure to be a sweet memento in years to come!

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Let Go, Grab Hold

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If you were holding an object in one hand, and I handed you another, you wouldn’t think twice before dropping the first to pick up the second. But this is quite the realization for little babies, and their little brains will have to think hard about it. So try this cute game to get those brains working. You’ll help develop the grip as well as the concept of opening the hand to let go.

I gave Veronika a set of favorite, easy-to-hold keys, but then enticed her with a new toy.

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Soon she was holding the new rattle firmly. A weight-lifter like mama!

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Now it twas time to present a new option.

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She’s thinking about it…

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The rattle is down!

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And the ball is up. Good job, Veronika!

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Play this game throughout the day, and in days to come, and your little one will rapidly develop good hand control.

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DIY Crazy Hair Wig

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Travis has been into disguises lately, so when I suggested we make a wig, he couldn’t wait to see the final result! This project will be a little time consuming on the part of you, grown-up, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

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First, I let Travis select a color of pipe cleaner for the base of the wig, and we measured around his head with two for the perfect fit. Twist them together until they are the proper size.

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Next, I cut lengths of ribbon for the hair. I used thick green and yellow yarn in alternating blocks for most of the wig, but added in fun pops of color with a slightly thinner rainbow yarn. This means a lot of tedious knotting and tying, but Travis was thrilled. “Can I watch?” he asked, when I was sure he’d want to play elsewhere.

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At last, the wig was ready for a try-on.

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Travis loved being in disguise!

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He soon dubbed himself “Mummy Man.” Based on your child’s current interests, this wig could make them anything from a mummy to a fairy princess to a wizard to so much more. So go have some crazy fun!

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