Splash Zone

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Yes you can have water play in the kitchen without too much mess. These splashy games kept Veronika super-engaged while I prepped school lunches, and are a fun way to continue water play even as summer heads into fall. And clean-up was a breeze.

First, I sat her down on a towel with a shallow tub of water. I placed just a few bath toys in it, encouraging her to grab them as I made them float by.

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She loved scooping the toys up and out of the water, and just dipping in her little fingers.

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For added ease, I dressed her in a bathing suit. If it’s warm enough, there’s nothing wrong with doing the game in just a diaper!

Next, we got even splashier. I sat her up in the highchair, and carefully poured a small stream of water onto the high chair tray. This alone was delightful.

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She tested it out…

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…then discovered it was fantastic for splashing!

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Yes there were splatters, but the towel underneath caught almost all of it, and a quick wipe with a paper towel got the rest. And then up we went to change out of her bathing suit!

Surface Tension Experiment

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This is one of those experiments that Travis and I couldn’t get quite right, whoops! But we tried and had fun in the process, which is sometimes all that counts.

The science behind the activity is that water molecules hold with strong bonds, so much so that they’ll fill the holes of a mesh bag even when tipped upside-down.

First, Travis checked out our mesh bag. It sure didn’t look like it would hold water!

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We put it over a mason jar and secured with an elastic. Fill the jar about 3/4 full with water.

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Place an index card on top and flip over. No water leaking yet.

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Now the idea is to remove the index card – slooowly. According to the internet, sometimes it can just fall off, which works even better. Either way, the water should hold!

However, I think because every time we slid the index card out it wiggled the mesh bag, our experiment didn’t work.

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We tried altering several variables. Securing the elastic tighter around the mesh didn’t make things work any better, nor did using a second, smaller-mouthed glass jar.

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But you’ll notice from the giggles hat Travis wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. In fact, I think he liked the experiment better with the mess!

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Did you get your water to hold? Please share in the comments!

Solar Energy and Water

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This quick experiment seemed like a good way to illustrate the power of the sun for Travis, especially as he learns about how solar energy can power homes and more. Unfortunately our results weren’t spectacular, but perhaps you’ll have a more clear-cut outcome!

Set two cups of water on 2 pieces of paper, one white, and one black, somewhere that receives direct sunlight. Theoretically, the water on the black paper should warm up more quickly, as the black absorbs the sun’s heat, while the white reflects it.

Travis helped test this in two ways.

First, we tried ice cubes, expecting the one on the black paper’s water to melt faster.

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But oh no, our ice cubes might not have been the same size, because the white side melted more quickly!

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Next we tried a thermometer. We left the two cups of water to heat up in the sun for a few hours, then headed out with a thermometer to check.

Again, sadly, the results weren’t very pronounced. The black water might have been a degree or two warmer, but on our small dial, that was hard for Travis to appreciate.

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Either way, at least the experiment got him thinking, and he got a dose of science and a little sunshine in the morning!

Summer Water with Baby

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Recently, I posted a round-up of fun field trips to take with the under-one-year-old set before the summer is out. Here’s a second round-up featuring a few water-centered ideas that – yes! – you can do with a baby.

Turn on the sprinkler:

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This is an easy one! Just head out to your yard or driveway, and set a sprinkler going. Bonus points for silly ones! Just dipping in baby’s toes is sure to elicit laughter or surprised little squeals.

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Find a water fountain:

Many parks have pretty fountains, which you can stop off at after a walk or playground play. In addition to being fun just to watch (splashy water!) you can quickly dip in baby’s toes for a cool off on a hot day.

Hit the beach:

I was worried about Veronika eating fistfuls of sand, so avoided the beach for much of the summer. But it turns out there’s a way to take even an everything-in-the-mouth nine-month-old to the beach safely.

First, bring shade. You’ll still want to slather your little one with sunscreen, but a large umbrella offers extra protection.

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Don’t forget to pack wipes, swim diapers, a change of dry diaper and clothes, plastic bags (for trash or wet clothing), and a nice sunhat.

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And toys!

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Beaches are the perfect place for a nap, so don’t worry about baby missing out on key shut-eye.

Once she was awake, first she wanted to play on a big beach towel.

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Then we took Veronika down to the water’s edge. Choose a beach with gentle water, whether that means a harbor, sound, lake, or other sandy stretch with few to no waves. She could happily sit and let the tiny waves lap at her toes.

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She did like digging her hands into the water and sand, but she only tried one nibble, which I easily diverted.

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In sum, I have no more fear about babies and beaches!

How have you and your baby played with water this summer? Please share in the comments!

 

Bring Out the Baby Bathtub

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The title of this post means exactly what it says: don’t use the baby bathtub inside this summer… Bring it outside!

Being outdoors in hot summer weather and trying to keep baby cool can be tricky. Even many kiddie pools are toddler-sized, and can be large and intimidating for a baby… Not to mention for the parent who has to keep a double eye on things when water is involved.

The perfect hack? Use the baby bathtub! It’s much smaller, and Veronika loves sitting in this even dry outside while we play But today I filled it with lukewarm water and added a few of her favorite bath toys.

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At first she just seemed amazed ato be in water outside, quickly followed by delight. She played with the toys…

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Kicked her legs…

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And loved when I showed her how to pour from funnels and cups.

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She also loves when I splash my fingers in the water to make “fireworks”!

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In sum, this is the perfect way to keep baby cool in the pool, whether it’s just the two of you or if big siblings are playing outside, too.

Spray Bottle + Water = Fun

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Travis always wants my spritz bottle of Mrs. Meyers as I’m cleaning around the house. So this time when I had an empty container, I knew better than to recycle it – a quick rinse and a fill with water, and it was his own bottle to spray.

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We took the game outside in early morning sunshine for almost endless varieties of fun. First, we wondered what surfaces would change colors when we spritzed them. Our cement patio and wood siding were both neat.

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Then we decided to take a few toy cars to the car wash; filling the back of the pickup truck with water was particularly entertaining.

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Travis decided the plants and grass were thirsty and spent quite some time giving both their fill, arguably his favorite part of the activity.

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He asked me where ants get water from, and we decided to make a puddle from which they could come sip.

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As the adult supervisor, this game was almost relaxing! All I had to do was stand back and watch his imagination work – plus the sparkles were beautiful in early morning sunshine!

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And of course a little impish behavior had to enter in near the end, when he decided to spritz his own hand.

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Mommies’ pants make the best towels.

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Get outside and play this one before the weather gets chilly!

Water Art

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Need to add a dose of novelty to your child’s art projects? Simply add water and stir to see new results!

First, Travis and I tested out water on chalk. Have your toddler dip chalk into water before scribbling on dark-colored construction paper. Travis was very interested in the way the chalk darkened when wet…

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…although not as interested in the result on paper, which, admittedly, dried quickly.

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Next we added salt to our water, resulting in a cloudy mixture that Travis loved. Scribble with crayons on dark construction paper, and then use a paintbrush to apply the salt water solution over the paper – don’t let it get too soggy!

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The crayon will show through because the wax resists the water, and the paper will become somewhat sparkly where the salt is left behind after it dries… although the result was not as sparkly as I hoped it would be.

Finally, we made a paper bag “batik”. Travis loved dunking a brown paper bag in his bowl of water (cut the bag open so it can dry flat), and then crumpling it and squeezing out the excess water. This step was easily his favorite part of our entire water-arts endeavor.

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Once the bag dries, color with crayons any way you like.

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What other art projects have you and your toddler added water to? Please share in the comments!

 

W Week!

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Welcome to W week of our Letter of the Week play! W-w-what begins with w, you ask? We had lots of fun finding out.

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Wings: You might have noticed lots of bird-themed posts this week, and that’s because we talked a lot about wings. It was a perfectly-timed coincidence that our bird-themed Koala Crate arrived. That sparked great ideas throughout the week, including playing wing charades to kick things off on Monday. Travis soared like an eagle, fluttered like a butterfly, and flapped like a duck, to name a few.

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Wolf: W was a great reminder to pull out our Three Little Pig toy sets! We have two, one more meant for babies, and one for children a little older, but there’s no reason we couldn’t adapt them to suit Travis’ level of play, talking about wolves all the while!

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Watch: Travis loves watches, so he had fun trying on three different models. For preschoolers, definitely use this word/week to play games about telling the time with a watch!

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Wood: Not only did we have fun pulling out all the toys around the house that are made of wood – wooden blocks, wood instruments – but it was also a great way for Travis to do sorting or comparisons, i.e. which of his instruments were plastic and which were wood? “These are made of wood, too!” he exclaimed throughout the week, once the theme was apparent. We had fun with wooden block games like block bowling…

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….and block tunnels to roll a ball through.

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To make a challenge for older children, create archways from blocks that are increasingly smaller, and see if they can roll a ball through.

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Water/waves: These words prompted our field trip of the week, taking advantage of late summer weather to visit a nearby beach and watch the waves.

More fun, though, was water play at home. Please forgive the eco-infraction, but I let the water run in the kitchen sink for a short time and let Travis go to town with colanders, cups, and sieves.

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More eco-friendly by far was a game that worked his fine motor skills, with water in an eye dropper. First, he used the eye dropper to bleed the outline of marker drawings I made on paper towels, and loved watching the color run.

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Travis then amazed me using precision to drop colored water in the center of progressively smaller circles!

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Other water options include filling a basin and seeing what sinks and what floats, or simple games of water toys in the tub.

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Wind: This was unexpectedly my favorite of the week. We set up a fan and tested out what would happen to feathers, streamers, and other light materials. Travis tried placing an instrument on the fan and looked so surprised when it didn’t waft up, so it was a good lesson on density, too! He requested the fan the following morning, after I’d put it away! Watching him watch a pinwheel spin in the wind was just magical.

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And of course, don’t forget to head out on the windiest day of the week and fly a kite!

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Walk/wagon: Pull out the wagon and give rides of course! Or let your toddler push stuffed animal friends around, for great exercise. You can also go on walk with the wagon and make part of the walk into a “silly walk.” We took turns thinking of silly actions, like tip-toeing or taking giant steps (Travis’s favorite).

Here a few final items from our W-themed week:

Fine Art: My idea to make a wind chime was a little too ambitious. I encouraged Travis to thread beads, but I mainly had to put the craft together myself. He liked the end result though!

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Food: We had a W-tastic breakfast one morning, waffles and watermelon, which Travis loved watching me chop off the rind, first.

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Books: Playing off some of our themes, we enjoyed reading Spot’s First Walk by Eric Hill, Ten Dogs in the Window by Clare Masurel and The Wind Blew, by Pat Hutchens.

Song: I introduced Travis to the wonderful timbre of Louis Armstrong’s voice on What a Wonderful World. He didn’t really connect it to W week, but always worth a listen!

Math: It was the perfect week to teach the word… Week! We have a Wee Sing song that’s perfect for learning the days in order, and I sang it as I lined up our day-of-the-week magnets.

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The timing was perfect since we’re also counting down to visits with two relatives, one in one week, and the other in two weeks. So we made a countdown chart, and Travis has been adding a sticker each day that elapses! Consider making a chart for your toddler counting down to any similarly-anticipated event, like a playdate or outing.

What a week!