Learn to Blow

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Blowing is such a gentle and fun sensation for babies, both to feel it from you and to learn! Today, Veronika and I had some fun with this idea in a few ways.

First, I simply took a deep breath in and then blew gently on her cheeks and forehead (you’ll probably want to avoid the eyes). Veronika giggled and thought this was a delight.

You can see she tried to imitate me with her tongue out, so making more of a raspberry sound. But I love that she instantly tried to copy me!

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Try blowing on palms or fingers, too.

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Then I pulled out our pinwheel for more demonstration. She loved watching it go around in the “wind”.

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I hoped she would try blowing on it, too, but her hands proved too tempting to make it spin.

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Then of course we needed the perfect story for learning to blow: we huffed and puffed to the Three Little Pigs!

I set up a Three Little Pigs toyset that’s been around since big brother Travis was a baby, and hung up tissue paper over the houses.

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As I narrated the story, I huffed and puffed on the tissue each time we came to that part of the tale. She loved watching the tissue paper sway back and forth!

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Do you have a fairy tale that you like to narrate in a hands-on way? Please share in the comments!

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Head Shoulders (1)In the past, I’ve sung songs like ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes‘ to Veronika mostly for fun. But now that she’s saying her first words (like “cat“!), songs like these are great to learn vocabulary. Because babies love to mimic, see if your little one will follow along and pat parts of his or her body as you sing.

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We have a fun interactive learning desk with pictures of the body; it was great to sing the song at the desk and point to the corresponding pictures.

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I also pointed out each word on her corresponding body part. Knees and toes!

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I like to use my own face when pointing out eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. Hopefully she will reach out and start touching features back, soon.

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Finish the song with a big round of applause!

 

Make Binoculars

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These super-simple binoculars are a fun way to introduce the item to your baby. No complicated decorations or lenses here, just some quality “I Spy” play!

I taped together two empty toilet paper tubes with several layers of colored tape. Sometimes I prepare crafts while Veronika watches so she can play along, but I knew she would be an imp with the tape, so secretly put these together while she napped.

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Once awake, I peered at her through the binoculars. Hello, Veronika!

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I showed her how to hold the tubes up to her eyes and verbalized what I saw. “Look, there’s the cat! Look, it’s daddy! Look, a toy train!”

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Next it was her turn; I handed the binoculars over, and she puzzled over how to peer through them. She loved holding them, and placed them up to her head in imitation, although needed my help to get them centered over her eyes.

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Her favorite though was whenever I looked at her through them, rewarding me with a big smile each time. A great first pair of binocs!

Baby Food Jar Play

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Veronika hasn’t eaten baby food out of jars in ages (this little miss prefers finger foods), but I like to keep a few empty jars on hand for games and activities. Today she kept so busy with 4 jars and 4 lids and this simple activity.

I set the jars in front of her on a soft surface (be sure your floor is well padded if using glass jars).

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To start, I simply showed her how to remove a lid, and then place it back on. Babies will instantly want in on this action. Veronika snatched off the lids (I had them very loose) and tried to put them back on.

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It was so interesting to watch the brain at work on this one. At first she put the lids on upside down, or on the bottom of the jars.

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But after a few tries, she was putting them on right side up, even making them a little tight.

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She looked so pleased with herself and had to do it over and over!

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For extra fun, I put small toys inside a few of the jars. I thought she would be interested in digging for the rewards once the lids were off, but truly the lids and jars themselves were what fascinated her.

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I loved watching this sequence: She gets the lid on.

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Then off again.

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Then peeks inside for a toy!

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She was one very pleased little girl.

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Car Tracks in Baby Food

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Veronika loves to vroom cars around on the floor (she even says “vvvv” as she does so!) and so I thought: Why not turn it into an art project?

I taped craft paper down to her highchair tray, and spooned on a little bit of jarred baby food. I added a few trucks (firetrucks and school buses are favorites) and let her go wild.

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She immediately began vrooming the wheels through the blobs of food, and was rewarded with car tracks. I showed her how we could stretch these out to the edge of the paper, or make tracks that zig-zagged back and forth.

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The paper seemed more hindrance than helper, so I stripped it off and repeated the game right on her high chair tray; luckily it’s an easy one to clean! She liked this version better.

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And took a few tastes of her artwork, too!

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A thoroughly enjoyable little activity, with a snack built right in.

Counting Fish

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Veronika was gifted an adorable counting fish game, which reminded me of a rhyme I used to sing for big brother Travis.

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Both the tune and the counting elements are fun in this one, and Veronika is at a great age for counting rhymes. As we played with the fish, I sang:

One, two, three, four, five,

Once I caught a fish alive.

Six, seven eight nine, ten,

Then I let him go again.

 

Why did you let him go?

Because he bit my finger so.

Which finger did he bite?

This little finger on my right.

We counted out the fish one by one to the words…

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Or practiced letting the fish go when I sang that line.

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In sum, this is an adorable one to add to your repertoire, if you’re in need of new songs!

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When You Do This, I Do That

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Here’s a silly cause-and-effect game to play with your baby, one that had Veronika in fits of laughter.

First, I touched my nose, and then encouraged Veronika to reach out and do the same.

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Whenever she beeped my nose, I stuck my tongue out. After a few repeats, she got the idea that her action “caused” my tongue to pop out. Add silly sound effects and your baby will love it!

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Another fun one is to puff your cheeks up with air. I encouraged her to “unpop” my cheeks. When her hand brushed my cheek, I acted like the force made all the air come out.

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Again, big giggles.

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These kinds of cause-and-effect games are great for teaching your baby about the concept, plus reap lots of laughter as the reward.

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Socialize Online

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Whether there’s a big event that far-away relatives can’t make it to, or whether you just a weekly standing date for face-to-face time online, I was reminded today how powerful it can be for children to socialize online with family they don’t often see.

Today’s post is simple: don’t forget the value of screen time when it comes to keeping in touch. I sat Veronika on my lap and dialed relatives who couldn’t make it to an event. They got to admire her party dress, and catch up!

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If you make this a weekly habit, even family who live far away can be regular figures in your baby’s life. And big siblings benefit, too!

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Do you and your baby Skype or Facetime with a relative? Please share in the comments!

Toppling Tower

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Chances are you have lots of empty snack boxes if you have kids. Instead of recycling, set them aside and build up a collection. Now you have all you need for building towers with your baby!

For about a week, I saved every empty snack box and cereal boxes. Tape the tops closed, if needed, so no edges stick out. First, I dumped out the bag in front of Veronika. Instant fun!

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Then we got building. You can encourage your baby to place one box on top of another, but don’t be surprised if the preferred activity is knocking down! This post is called toppling tower, after all.

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We even got into some pretend play and made a garage for her vehicles.

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Add in real building blocks to make the structure more complicated (soft foam ones are my favorite for this age).

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This tower, too, needed to be toppled of course.

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This kind of early STEM activity will help build new connections in your baby’s brain, plus provide lots of enjoyment!

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Kaboom!

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Picture This, Sing That

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At just-shy of one year old, Veronika has very firm opinions about her favorite songs, and your little one no doubt does, too. Make it easy for pre-verbal kids to pick a song with visual clues!

For this activity, I went to the print shop to get brightly-colored high-quality images of a few favorite tunes. There was a cute spider for Itsy Bitsy Spider, a bright yellow bus for Wheels on the Bus, and a farm scene for Old Macdonald Had a Farm. I showed her one image and then sang that song.

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Pretty soon, she made the connection between image and song.

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Her big smiles made it clear she was having fun.

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Wheels on the Bus is her hands-down favorite. She saw the yellow bus and immediately began swishing her “wipers”.

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Later, I gave her the choice of all three pictures in the playroom. Sure enough, she selected the bus right away, so we sang that one.

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To add to the visuals, you can even add props! Soon she was scooting a bus back and forth as we sang Wheels.

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And playing with animals as we sang Old Macdonald.

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What’s your baby’s favorite song? Please share in the comments!

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