Friday, August 24, 2012

Independent Sandwich Preparation + Link of the Week

Feeding a toddler can be difficult. Some days Zel is a never ending abyss eating anything and everything, while other days he seems to survive off of a few bites of food. Forcing food upon your child never works, so parents have to figure out gentle (or sneaky) ways to encourage their child to eat. One way that I do this is by letting Zel make his own sandwiches. I cut up some bread and gave him a heaping spoonful of peanut butter and a child sized butter knife. I showed him how to use the knife to spread the peanut butter on the bread then let him try it by himself. Sometimes it takes a little restraint to stop myself from doing it for him or keeping him from getting too messy, but I find that he enjoys the food so much more when he does it all by himself. This is also great fine motor skills practice too!

Eventually he forgot about trying to spread the peanut butter and just ate it with a spoon (I've been know to do this myself).

I also wanted to share this adorable snack idea from Creative Kidlets 101 that I found on last week's Kid's Co-op Link Up:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Whipped Topping Paint

We are getting ready for a cross country move in less than two weeks, so I've been trying to use up the various foods in our fridge, freezer, and pantry. I came across a container of Trader Joe's House Whip in the freezer and knew that Zel would love to play with it (and eat it, of course!). 

All I did was scoop out the whipped topping into a muffin tin and add food coloring. I let Zel use a silicone basting pastry brush as a paint brush. Instead of regular paper, we used freezer paper so that it wouldn't get mushy and would be easy to clean up. I laid a plastic mat on the ground, taped the freezer paper smooth side down and showed Zel that he could use the brush to paint on it. He liked pointing out the different colors and using the brush to mix the different colors together.

 After painting for a few minutes, he dipped his brush in and asked, "eat?" I gave him the OK and he proceeded to alternate between painting and eating the whipped topping. He thought it was really funny to stick his finger in the whipped topping and lick it off. At first he wanted me to lick the whipped topping off his finger. I showed him that he could use his fingers to paint too. While he was finger painting, I used the brush to write his name and make some shapes. He then took the brush and tried to paint on the shapes while saying the names of the shapes. 

 This was a fun, easy activity and a cool, tasty treat!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pretend Play: Washing Fruit

Zel has recently become OBSESSED with apples. I can't open the refrigerator door without Zel swooping in, opening the fruit drawer, and grabbing an apple. I often end up finding several apples with tiny little bites taken out of them. I have been trying to teach him that we need to wash the apples before we eat them. Sometimes he remembers, but most of the time the excitement about eating the apples wins out. I decided to let Zel practice with some pretend play. I put a towel down in the kitchen and filled a pot with soapy water. Zel picked some fruits and veggies that he wanted to wash. I gave him a wash cloth and showed him how to clean the food.

Zel examined the wash cloth and tried dipping it in the water and squeezing the water out a few times. Then he tried scrubbing the fruit with the cloth, but even more exciting than that was to stick his arms all the way into the water and touching all the play food.

Then Zel thought that we should wash his pots and pans too. He added in some fish and mixed everything together in order to make some soup.

Most fun of all was when Zel decided that he should clean his feet, so he got in the pot! He thought this was so funny. He kept giggling and did a little jig.

Pretend play is a great way for your toddler to learn about the world, and it's fun too!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Colored Ice Play

This has been a very hot summer for many places, luckily for us, the pacific northwest was not one of those places. We have had a very mild summer, gloomier and rainier than usual. We have had some hot days, and on those days it is hard to escape the heat because we don't have air conditioning! In fact, most people around here don't. I was dreading the weather on our trip to the southeast (it was over 100 degrees some days during our visit) but the miracle of a/c made it more bearable than our mild northwest summer. On the hot days, I have tried to do activities to help keep us cool. One item that Zel had a lot of fun with was colored ice cubes. This is a super easy activity to prep. Just drop some food coloring into ice cube trays and add water then freeze. After the cubes were frozen, I put them in a bag so that I could reuse the ice trays. If you don't like to use food coloring you could also use juice, but your colors won't be as bright.

For our first experience, we did colored ice art. I gave Zel a piece of construction paper to draw on using the ice. He tried this at first but then experimented with the ice in many different ways.

We talked about how cold the ice was and how it melted from our warm hands. He said the word "ice" over and over then started morphing it into the word "eyes." So he put the ice on his eyes and on mommy's eyes. Then he tried the ice on as a hat too.

I told Zel that I hid an M&M inside one of the ice cubes. Then of course he tasted all of the ice cubes to try to find it!

Zel put all the ice cubes back in the bowl and started shaking it. Since he was using a metal bowl, it made a loud clanging noise which he absolutely loved.

I brought out a towel so that Zel didn't slip on any water and he used it to play peek-a-boo with the ice. Then he thought it was hilarious to hide the ice with his face.

Zel wanted to move out of the kitchen and began carrying the ice cubes into the living room by balancing them on his spoon. I loved this impromptu motor skills practice. I was very impressed about how few times he dropped the ice.

I had some colored ice left over, so I brought them out another day to entertain Zel while I exercised. I laid out a blanket in the living room and gave him some kitchen tools, a cup, bowl, baking sheet, and muffin tin.

Zel had a lot of fun moving the ice between the various containers. He filled the little cup, then placed one ice cube in each spot of the muffin tin.

While I was on vacation in South Carolina, I helped my mom with some babysitting. It was very hot there, so I thought the ice would be a perfect activity. My mother didn't have food coloring so we used apple juice, cranberry juice, blackberry juice, and coconut milk to make different colors. We set out a bunch of metal bowls, muffin tins, spoons, and tongs. The kids had a blast! They loved trying to use the tongs and of course sucking the juice out of the ice cubes. I gave the older kids some eye droppers and warm water and showed them that they could use it to melt the ice. 

Colored Ice is a great way to beat the heat and have fun learning about colors, numbers, and temperature!