Sunday, March 29, 2020

Quarantivity Round Up: Week 2

Last week was hard. I feel like many people, myself included, went from a "this won't be so bad" to "you're saying we are going to be quarantined for how long?!" mentality. We followed our schedule, but by the time the day was over, the last thing I wanted to think about was writing a blog. So now, Sunday night, I'm staring down the barrel of another week in quarantine, and I thought it might be good to post some of the activities we did this past week.

Jude's main interests this week were counting, transferring, and lining things up, so we focused on that!

Quarantivity #1: Counting, Sorting, and Lining Up Stuffies

This one is easy peasy. All you need are a couple stuffies and your brain. We have bird beanie babies that we keep in the window, so we just pulled those down for this. Start off by counting them. Jude did this no less than 15 times before wanting to move on. It's all about letting them repeat the play as long as they see fit. It can be tedious for the adult, but it's so good for their growing brains! 

We were able to talk about colors and sort based on those qualities together. Jude is still at the stage where everything is blue, so we had to do this slowly and together. 

Jude ended with lining the birds up, putting them in a pile, and lining them up again. It was a really simple spur of the moment activity that was mostly led by him, but we both had fun! 

For older children, you could ask to line up by size, line up in rainbow order, line up alphabetically. The options are endless. For a little extra movement, you could put them in different areas of the room and ask for them to run to the blue bird and do 5 jumping jacks, then to the green and dance for 15 seconds, etc. 

Quarantivity #2: Lacing, Transporting, and Sorting Buttons 

We spent every day this week doing this same activity at least once a day because Jude was so obsessed with these buttons. He calls them beads and will aimlessly wander around the playroom calling for them if they are put away. If you need a cheap way to amuse your toddler, buttons are the answer. 

Lacing was the main reason I got them. We used pipe cleaners and he laced them through the holes. The holes were a little smaller than I imagined, so his fine-motor skills got a workout. To start, I held the pipe cleaner and he laced them, but as we went on, he figured out how to do both. 

By far, Jude's favorite thing to do with the buttons is take them handful by handful and transfer them into another container. He will then take the new container and carry it to a new new container and repeat the process. I am not joking when I say he spends an hour a day at least independently doing this. 

Quarantivity #3: Transferring, Lining Up, and Sorting Everything

I realized that this was going to get redundant really quickly because Jude spent so much of his time this week doing something similar to what he did with the birds. It's pretty self-explanatory what he did, but I just wanted to repeat it to talk briefly about a couple of things. First, I say this a lot, but repetition is so important. It doesn't need to be repetition of an activity to be meaningful. It can also be the repetition of a skill. 

I have linked this before, but if you aren't familiar with the different play schemas, check this out. Because I know that Jude is interested in the transportation and enclosure schema, I try to focus his play opportunities on those two things to sharpen those skills. 

Quarantivity #4: Magnet and Pipe Cleaner Bottle 

This one has been on my Pinterest board for a really long time, and we gave it a try this week. For this, I used our Learning Resources Science Sensory Tubes. They have been really great because I can switch out materials as Jude's interests change. 

I cut up some pipe cleaners (I think I got a 100 packs a year ago, and we honestly use them for everything, so I'm amazed that they are skill around). I gave Jude a long magnet, and watched him as he discovered that he could manipulate the pipe cleaners from the outside of the bottle. The moment was magical for both of us. 

Since I blindly grabbed the tops, we ended up with one with holes in it. At first, I was frustrated because the pipe cleaners would pop out the top a little, but Jude and I both soon realized that it was a fun feature. He spent a while using the magnet to pull the pipe cleaners out, then he would put them back in one by one. It was a science, fine-motor, and posting activity all rolled into one. 

Quarantivity #5: Nature Walk Bracelets 

This is a favorite at Tinkergarten, and it is so easy. You take tape, attach it sticky side out to the child (or your) wrist, and collect nature treasures! Jude is pretty sensitive about his hands, so I wore the bracelet and let him attach things to it! It was tons of fun, very easy, and very cheap! 10/10 recommend!

Bonus Quarantivies (that are less about play but fun anyway)

Video Chat Playdate 

If you haven't already, download Zoom and have a playdate! My Wednesday Mom Group got together at our usual meet up time last week. Jude was happy to see his friends, and I was even happier to have a few minutes to catch up with mine! 

Repeating Activities from Last Week 

We kept our bins from Quarantine Week 1, and they were just as much fun this week! There's no reason to throw out your materials if they aren't dirty! 


Jude was a big help this week when building his new swing set. Whenever we have something build, we will try to give him an allen wrench or a screwdriver and let him help. Exposing him to tools will be helpful later when he is old enough to do bigger jobs and has familiarity with tools. 

Thank you for sticking with me through this post! I am not sure what Quarantine Week #3 will bring us. I may post everyday. It might be a weekly round up again. Whatever it is, I will see you soon! I hope you are making the best of this scary time with lots and lots of fun play! 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quarantivity: Water Bead Art

Welcome to our second quarantivity, water bead art. If you're anything like me, you grossly overestimate how many water beads you need and make trillion on accident. This is a great activity to use up those extra water beads. 


  1. 1 cup of water beads
  2. 3 paints of different colors, we used Colorations Liquid Watercolor 
  3. plastic tub with top
  4. watercolor paper (trust me, this holds the color way better than any other type of paper).
  5. tape to hold down the paper (painter's tape is best)

Preparing the Bin

  1. Cut the watercolor paper into desired size. I just cut to fit the bin.
  2. Using painter's tape, tape down the paper
  3. Measure out a cup of water beads and have them ready
  4. Pull out paint colors for child to choose

Making the Art

  1. Have child choose three colors
  2. Depending on their age, either let them squeeze in paint, squeeze in yourself, or assist them in squeezing in the paint.
  3. Depending on their age, let them dump the beads or dump them yourself. 
  4. Seal the lid
  5. Shake shake shake shake shake the beads the up, shake the beads up, shake!
  6. Let art dry for an hour
  7. Enjoy your art!
We will be sending our artwork to some pen pals, but you could send it to a local nursing home, hang it up on the fridge, or  make cards for grandparent! The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Quarantivity: Rainbow Rice

Welcome to my new series called 'Quarantivity'. It will feature a new activity (at least M-F, and I'll probably take other activities during the week to fill up Saturday and Sunday) to do with your toddler during the quarantine. Or whenever. Because I'm hoping this quarantine is shorter lived than people's interests in my posts.
For the first Quartivity, we are going to take a look at rainbow rice. It's beautiful. It's easy. And it can keep kids amused for extended periods of time in mostly independent play.

How to make rainbow rice (2 ways)

with liquid watercolor

  1. Put 2 cups of rice each in the desired number of ziploc gallon bags (I used 6).
  2. Squirt some liquid watercolor into bags. I use Colorations Liquid Watercolor Paint. I bought this over a year ago, and it's still going strong. We use it all the time. The more watercolor, the brighter the color.
  3. Seal and shake the bag. If you have a toddler present when creating this, have them shake the bag. Jude was a big help with this step.
  4. Put down paper towels (1 for each color) and dump the rice on it.
  5. Let dry for 30 minutes. 
  6. Time to play! 

with vinegar and food coloring

  1. Put 2 cups of rice each in the desired number of ziploc gallon bags (I used 6).
  2. Coat the rice in vinegar. This helps the food coloring stick. There's probably an extra measurement, but when I have done this in the past, I eye-balled it and it worked great.
  3. Put a few drops of food coloring the the bag. The more food coloring, the brighter the color.
  4. Seal and shake the bag. If you have a toddler present when creating this, have them shake the bag. Jude was a big help with this step.
  5. Put down paper towels (1 for each color) and dump the rice on it.
  6. Let dry for 30 minutes. 
  7. Time to play! 

How to create the bin

  1. Carefully put the rice in a bin or any container color by color. If you don't care if it's mixed, because it will get mixed, just throw it all in there.
  2. Find a few tools for your little to work with. Bowls and cups are great for this. I have these small scoops. They are perfectly Jude sized. 
  3. Throw in some objects that can be hid or buried. Different textures would be great (like the pipe cleaners I used), but honestly anything you have on hand is perfect. Or throw nothing in and it's still fun. I always add Jude's name in big magnets because I like to integrate name letter recognition as often as possible. 
  4. Set the bin out in a place that you are comfortable with getting messy. I didn't want to do this outside because we are a popular dining joint for the neighborhood birds, and I didn't want them to eat the rice. I chose the table because almost all of the spill happened on the table, and it was easy to just sweep back into the bin for later use. 

Possible activities to encourage play and learning

  1. Bury the letters or objects and have your child dig them out. Jude decided to play this game on his own. He would bury the letters and say 'where go, mommy?', dig it out, and exclaim 'HERE GO!' This provided a decent amount of entertainment as we played it over and over. 
  2. Scoop into cups and bowls and pretend to eat it. Be careful if your toddler or baby likes to put everything in their mouth. You don't want to confuse them! 
  3. Drive trucks in the rice. Jude had little construction trucks, so I brought those out and he used them like extra scoops.
  4. Try to match objects to the colors (before it gets too mixed)

Clean-up tips

  1. If your little starts tossing around the rice, I suggest saying, "keep it in the tray, or it goes away". You say it in a sing-song voice. I learned it from Playful Little Learners, and I use it every time we doing a sensory bin. Make sure you only say it if you're prepared to take it away! 
  2. Have your little sweep and clear the area with you. We do it so often that Jude grabs his little broom now to help. Doing this really helps give the kids a sense of ownership when they are making the mess. Even if they are too young to walk with a broom, ask them to help take handfuls from out of the bin and put them in the bin.
  3. If possible, do this in a container that shuts. Jude went back to the bin twice today, and I'm sure he will go for it tomorrow too. If it seals, it's easier to keep it all together! 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

53 Activities To Help Your Children Learn and Play While Stuck At Home

Ohio just cancelled school for the next three weeks. I'm positive Jude's tumbling, Tinkergarten, and other classes are not far behind. Parents all over Facebook are looking for suggestions of what to do to keep their children engaged and entertained while being at home. I thought this was a perfect time to compile activities that we have done in the past that might be fun to do while your littles are at home! Most should be pretty easy to modify for older children, but if you're at a loss how to, reach out. I would be happy help you modify!

  1. Ice Painting
  2. DIY Kinetic Sand
  3. Bubble Wrap Painting
  4. DIY Peanut Butter Playdoh
  5. Tin Can Play
  6. Milk Color Experiment
  7. Penguin Activities
  8. Taste Safe Finger Paint
  9. Rock Painting
  10. Fun with Dry Beans
  11. Contact Paper Flowers
  12. No Mess Squish Paint
  13. Watercolor and Mosaic Hippos
  14. Oats Treasure Hunt
  15. Sink or Float Experiment
  16. Cardboard Box Coloring
  17. Giant Water Bead Play
  18. Themed Discovery Basket
  19. Plant Flowers
  20. Ice Trapped (Science)
  21. Architecture with Cheese Puffs
  22. 4 Super Hero Activities
  23. Fun with Scrabble Letters 
  24. ASMR Experiments
  25. Make a Dam (Science) 
  26. Host a Pretend Tea Party
  27. Start Composting!
  28. Contact Paper Turtles
  29. Simple DIY Math Activity
  30. DIY Concrete Paint
  31. DIY Taste Safe Mud (messy!)
  32. 6 Easy Board Boxes to Make
  33. Tissue Paper Hot Air Balloons
  34. Illustrate and Write a Book
  35. Sprinkle Fun
  36. Shark Sensory Tray
  37. Bake Together
  38. Water Color Squeeze Bottle Painting
  39. Spaghetti Sensory Bin
  40. Pom Pom and Pasta Water table
  41. Playdoh Trays
  42. Activities about Dots
  43. Contact Paper Cat
  44. Cloud Dough Bin (scroll to the bottom)
  45. Nature Dig
  46. Playdoh Cakes
  47. Noodle Sensory Bin
  48. Button Drop
  49. Simple Origami
  50. 7 Senses Bin 
  51. Felt and Dot Paint Trees
  52. DIY Movement Dice
  53. Transporting Oats

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Joy of Being the Leader: Jude's Yes Day

I wanted to start off with an apology. I have been far more absent than I had originally intended. If you follow our Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen our big announcement last week. Jude is being promoted to big brother in early October. This pregnancy has been exponentially worse than Jude's. I spend my days feeling like I'm on a tilt-a-whirl ride, and all of my free time goes to napping. I am hoping for that second trimester energy spike near the end of March, but prepare for randomly spaced out blog posts. I am looking forward to sharing this journey with y'all and getting to come up to activities to amuse a baby and a toddler at the same time!
Now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to blog about something that was so simple yet so powerful that Jude and I did yesterday. I let him be the leader. We spend a lot of time socializing with other toddlers and moms, so when we are out, it's easiest that the adults guide the play and the pace to keep the peace. While Jude always has a really great time, we don't always get to do what he wants.
So yesterday was a playdate day, but when plans fell through, Jude and I headed to the Newport Aquarium with HahHah for a Jude guided adventure. We went knowing that Jude would guide us to where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do. We left the Keenz in the car and just had our backpack and a smile.
It was lovely. And exhausting. But importantly, Jude was so very happy.
Jude realized quickly that he was running the show and would pull us from fish tank to fish tank marveling at the "ishies" and their colors. If he got bored, he would just head off to the next. We spent a lot of time watching the sharks and rays and going back to do it again and again. Jude touched nearly everything in the touch tanks and touched the sting rays for the first time. He picked what he wanted in the cafe for a snack. He braved the shark bridge and picked his own shark to bring home to remember our special day.
It feels so easy. Like, duh, of course you should let your kid lead, but it's something that I know personally I forget to do. It was special for Jude. You could tell that he felt in charge and independent and most importantly he felt heard. Independence is something that is so hard to help a toddler feel, especially when it's so much easier just to do it for them. Try having a yes day with your toddler. Stock up on coffee beforehand and get ready to chase, but it will be so worth it!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bouncing Away the Winter Blues

I'm not sure what it is about this specific winter, but goodness has it been hard to beat the winter blues. Jude and I are both tired and grumpy most of the time. Our motivation is low. It hasn't been great. While reflecting on this the other day, I realized that when we are stuck inside, Jude is most happy when he is physically moving around. So, here is a list of activities and toys we have used this winter to bounce away the winter blues!

1. Movement Songs on our Google Mini

This is a surefire way to get Jude to smile. Some of our favorites are on the playlist below!
CCM-Movement Playlist

2. Nugget Comfort Couch

I sing the praises of the Nugget often on this blog, but truly it's saved us this winter season. Jude is getting more excited and more brave about climbing and sliding down. He's also getting strong enough to start moving some of the cushions how he wants. Just dragging them from place to place helps get some energy out as well. If you don't have a nugget, couch cushions and pillow forts could take the place of this energy busting activity too!

3. Trampoline

We have a Little Tikes Trampoline in the playroom. In the fussiest of moments, I will ask Jude if he needs to go bounce, and he will take his pouty self to the trampoline and bounce away. It's good for his vestibular system and honestly just a whole lot of fun. 

4. Pikler Triangle

We have had our pikler for almost a year now. Jude used it to start pulling up. He climbed on it before he could even fully crawl. It's our number one energy buster no matter the season. He just learned recently how to climb over the top of it and go down the other side. He spends hours during the day going up and down and up and down, and he is just so proud when he does! It gives off a very playground activity vibe which helps us both pretend that we are spending our days outside.

5. Tumbling

I cannot recommend more going to a tumbling class if you have a kids gym near you. We have been going weekly since Jude was 2 months old to Kids First Sports Center in Blue Ash, and it has done wonders for him. He gets to socialize with other similarly aged children. He gets to play on thousands of dollars of equipment that I could never provide for him. And best of all, especially during this cold dark winter, tumbling puts Jude in his best mood. He leaves happy. He spends the rest of the day happy. It's lovely. 

Winter is the worst. It is even worse when you have a toddler that thrives on physical activity. I hope you got a few ideas from this, and if you have any suggestions, I would love to see them in the comments!