Tummy Time

I recently read an article that was shared by the wonderful ladies over at The Inspired Treehouse.  I love following these Occupational and Physical Therapists because the articles they share cover a multiplicity of topics that I really know nothing about – and as a mom, I’m learning SO MUCH from them!  (So if you aren’t following their posts on their Facebook page, you totally should.  So here’s the article they shared – written by Nicole Sergent as a guest post on the Starfish Therapies blog.  It’s very interesting… and I like the realistic-ness (if that’s even a word) of the author – she knows what it’s like to be a mom, and that shows.

Babies love swings.  They love walkers.  They love the security of their cribs.  And often they are really content if we put them down in one.  Heck, they even love to be WORN!  Grayson LOVES our Lillebaby carrier, and I think he’d be content to live in it 24/7 – he’s my little snuggle bug.  But the fact remains that we as moms don’t want to grow children with physical weaknesses.  We don’t want to grow children who rely on us for their every move.  We want them to grow to be independent, physically active and fit adults.  And in order for that to happen, they need a LOT of this:

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Many babies don’t start out liking “tummy time.”  They may scream and cry as they struggle to pull up their head, and then as they learn to roll over.  But struggle is part of learning.  Remember that the butterfly doesn’t just POP out of the cocoon.  It has to struggle.  The tulip doesn’t just burst open instantly – but slowly unfolds.  And it’s hard as a mom – I’ve watched two babies pass that phase, and it’s NOT easy to sit there next to your child while he or she cries and struggles.  In that stage, I would typically sit and watch the clock, and offer lots of encouragement.  I’d only let the struggle go on for a very short time – two or three agonizingly long minutes.  But it’s paying off!!  Grayson is rolling both directions, and learning how to wiggle his way in a sort of “Army crawl” to anywhere he wants to go.

So how do you inspire your babies to WANT tummy time?  Well, that’s different for every child.  For Becca, she much preferred to sleep on her tummy, so tummy time usually turned into nap time if I’d let her.  She needed LOTS of stimulation from me while on her tummy.  I would get on my tummy too and we’d talk to each other.  She LOVED that.  For Grayson, he’s pretty content as long as he has several toys around him.  He loves that buzzy bee in the picture above – it makes fun noises and the antennae light up – encouraging him to keep his head up and watching it.  I usually place several different things on his quilt (we have hardwood floors, so I always put down a cushy quilt for him, or have him on a sheet in his carpeted room) – a variety of distances away from him.  So that he has to work to get to them.  He really enjoys being on his tummy, so he doesn’t roll over to his back too often, although he does love playing with his toes, too, so sometimes he’ll roll over for a while, and then roll back.

I wanted to create a special place for him in our family room – because we have our “adult” area with the couch and recliners, and then Becca’s playthings are everywhere, so I got a comforter out of the closet that has several really need textures on it, folded it in half, and created a little space just for him.  He has some toys, but the highlight of his play area is the little set of mirrors I attached to the wall.  He loves looking at himself in the mirror!  I got these 4″ Square Glass Mirrors (I purchased 6 – aff link) and just hot glued them on.  There are lots of options for sizes and shapes: Darice Mirror Options.

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I certainly understand that sometimes tummy time isn’t the easiest task on a Mommy’s “to do” list for the day.  And with an older child and two dogs running around, I certainly understand that leaving your baby on the floor can be a challenge.  But it’s worth putting the dogs up, vacuuming, and getting the older one an “at the table” activity if need be.  NOTHING can take the place of tummy time.  Absolutely nothing.  And nothing can make a mom feel proud like knowing that you’ve done something that has helped your child grow in a positive way.  The morning I took this picture, I was in shock that when the bee rolled away, so did he.  And so proud that my baby boy could finally roll over and over to get to the toy he wanted.  Now, just a few short weeks later, he’s everywhere!

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Being a mom is a LOT harder than rocket science.  There’s so many things that we have to do for our kids that stretch us and grow us.  And it’s not always easy.  But the rewards are so awesome.  They make all the little bumps in the road worth while.

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Did you like this article?  Please share!  And be sure to “like” my Facebook page (link to your right) for more ideas, posts, and shared articles from others.  Please note that Facebook is changing their page policies – if you want to see my posts, you’ll need to click “like,” “comment,” or “share” regularly for them to show on your newsfeed.  If you don’t participate, you won’t see my stuff. :/

The gift that keeps on giving!

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Back on August 4th, I told you about our Farmer’s Market sorting set (this one: Learning Resources Farmers Market Color Sorting Set– affiliate link, thank you!), and how much Becca enjoys it.  I talked about all the fabulous ways you could use the set for teaching math skills, etc.  It really is a fabulous set.

But today, I wanted to shine the spotlight on Mr. Grayson.  You see, he’s learning how to pick things up, and how to drop them, and how to put them in his mouth… and once again, I’m impressed with the versatility of this set!  Because it’s fabulous for him, at 5 1/2 months, just as much as it’s fabulous for his big sister at 2!

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I love that the fruits and veggies are bright colors and have a variety of textures, so he’s getting a great sensory experience while playing with them.  And I love that they are big enough to really work his motor skills as well as his hand-eye coordination – while being safe… he isn’t going to choke on any of these items.  Sister also loves to play WITH him – she will bring him the right color bucket and help him drop them in!  She is also great about picking up the ones he drops on the floor (because that happens a lot)!

The manufacturer recommends this product for 36 months- 6 years.  But I would definitely say that if you’re looking for a Christmas gift that’s gonna just keep on giving, this is it – for any age of baby, toddler, or preschooler.  Granted, he doesn’t have any teeth yet – and I don’t know what will happen once he does and tries to chew on these, but they feel firm enough that I doubt he’ll be able to really take a bite out of any of these items.  (We’ll watch him close, though, and I’d of course recommend you do the same if you have a little one who will be playing with them.)

So there you go – a gift perfect for the little kiddos in your life – because they will never stop learning, imagining, and loving this set!

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Poster Painting

When it comes to crafting, I don’t need much bravery.  But when it comes to PAINT + My Toddler…. this Mommy needs more bravery than can possibly exist in one human.  But, every time I get up the courage to haul out the paint, it ends up being a super fun time, and I’m always glad that I did it.  So, for those of you who need bravery like me, and for those who love to let your little ones paint… here are some fun ideas to experiment with different textures.

IMG_9590Supplies we used: red and yellow washable tempera paint, lots of newspaper (to cover the wood floor), big sheets of white butcher paper, and bubble wrap, dryer balls, a toy car, and a square metal votive holder for painting with.

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She first just finger/hand painted, but then she really got into using the car, and then the dryer balls.  I was surprised that the bubble wrap wasn’t high on her priority list – since she loves to play with bubble wrap. 

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Her finished art actually ripped because she decided to walk on it, and put too much paint all in one spot.  Still, she was super proud of her art!  Once it is totally dry, I’ll cut the paper into a couple of different sections and use them as cards to send to the Grandparents.

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To keep myself from over-correcting her, and to truly just let her do what she wanted to do, I did my own painting right next to her.  It was super fun, and helped me to relax and just laugh with her.  When she was done, she decided to paint most of her body (I had her just in a diaper for this activity), so I carried her to the tub amid a burst of giggles, and we got her all scrubbed up.  She enjoyed her impromptu bath, and was so proud to show Daddy her artwork when he got home.

Pumpkin/Halloween Center

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A few weeks ago, I posted about play with orange colored rice.  (Here’s that post)  And then a few days after that, I took the purple rice I had, and added lavender essential oil.  I’ve heard that it has calming properties, and thought – what better thing to add to Becca’s rice?  Well, so I added a couple drops too many and the whole house smelled like lavender for two days.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.. just unexpected.  To try and combat the strong lavender scent, I mixed the purple rice with the orange, and then let it sit for about a week or maybe even two before we used it.  Now, it has a nice lavender scent, but isn’t overwhelming.

I love our water table – such versatility.  You can get yours here (aff link).  It works great for centers like this because I can fit several activities on the different layers.

I will give a qualifying statement to this post – like I did on my Apple Theme Center – if you are just starting to do sensory activities with your kids, you might not want to take the time or have the energy to put together an entire theme center.  THAT IS OK!!!  Just pick one or two of these and start there! 🙂

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So here’s the big picture – the overview of everything.  This center has a high emphasis on math and art, where my Apple center was a combination of Language Arts and Math concepts.

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First we’ll look at that sensory rice.  Isn’t it pretty?  And it fit so well in the top of the water table.  I added some fall cookie cutters – they are super fun to sink down and bury in the rice – as well as a variety of sizes of pumpkins that I had collected the past couple of years at Dollar Tree.  She definitely likes the cookie cutters the best.  She likes to hide them and then dig around to try and find them.

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Another fun activity is the pumpkin coloring activity.  We went to Michaels and picked up a white craft pumpkin, and I actually introduced this activity with her BEFORE putting it in the center.  We talked about how this pumpkin is MADE for coloring, and remembered that other pumpkins we have around the house that are decorations were NOT made for coloring.  We also remembered that crayons are only for coloring on paper (and this pumpkin) – not on the table, the couch, the hearth, or any other surface.  So I felt confident that I could put this activity in the pumpkin center and allow her to pull it out and take it anywhere to color, without getting crayon everywhere.  So far, she has done great with it, and will occasionally just go grab it and go to town coloring!  It’s really starting to look cool, and she can definitely take ownership of this and next week, I’ll let her select where she wants to put it to decorate our home!

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I also gave her a little pumpkin ice cube tray that I had bought at Dollar Tree – and I added the numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 to reinforce counting by twos.  My thought was that she could put one little pumpkin in each space, and count them by twos.  She had another idea all together – which reinforces the differences in the way she thinks vs the way I think… and makes me glad I didn’t limit her thinking by telling her what to do with it.  She put two grains of rice in each pumpkin on either side of the two, four by the four, six by the six, and up.  She actually sat there and counted out ten grains of rice two different times to fill up the “10” pumpkins.  Not quite the skill I was hoping to cover, but she kept saying 2,4,6,8,10, so it did end up reinforcing the skill after all.

In addition, I gave her a mesh bag that she could practice putting her pumpkins into (for a gross motor skill of holding a bag open and coordinating the drop to put them in), along with these little black bags for sorting (definitely a much more fine motor skill – these bags are LITTLE).  I got this “fall scatter” (shown below) at Michaels for super cheap.  She had fun sorting them by color and shape, holding them up to the lights to look through them, and of course, making patterns.  (Note: we ended up having to put the acorns away because she kept wanting to pretend she was a squirrel and put the acorns in her mouth, which is of course not safe.  She hasn’t done that with the pumpkins.  Not sure what it was about the acorns – other than her desire to be a squirrel…)

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We also used the cookie cutters, plastic pumpkins, and pumpkin scatter to sort small, medium, and large, and talk about “big, bigger, biggest” and “small, smaller, smallest.”  She informed me that NONE of the pumpkins were big, so it wasn’t correct to use those words about these teeny pumpkins, so then we said they were “teeny, teenier, and teeniest.”  That was super funny, and giggles ensued.

Sticky Football Field

As you know, I’m always looking for ways to make Sunday afternoon football games more interactive for Becca – since she’s not as interested in staring at the screen as we are!  So, in my ever-continuing love of all things contact paper, and knowing how much she loves putting her hands on the sticky tree we made, I thought – why not let her walk on it?

Here’s what I did – I printed off two end zone signs for our favorite team (#WEARETEXANS), and printed off the sideline numbers (you could easily print them for both sides – I just did one).  I laid out the contact paper on the floor, and taped it down with painter’s tape (don’t use masking or you’ll leave residue on your floor!).  Then I laid down one end zone sign, and Becca placed the other.  I put down the 10 and 30, she put down the 20.  I put down the 50, she put down the 40.  Until all the numbers were down.  Then we counted them by 10s.  Then, we ripped green paper for grass, and sprinkled them all over the “field”, and she began to walk on it.  She LOVES the stickiness on her feet!  She says it feels cool.  It’s also super fun to run cars on because they make a great sound, and she loves to roll the football across it because that makes yet another cool sound!

You could also extend this by cutting yard lines, and putting a center logo on the field.  We just didn’t do that this time.  🙂

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Total Prep Time for Mommy: About 10 minutes – since I had to type up the yard line numbers, and print out end zone logos.

Total Play Time for Becca: About 20 minutes at a time every day, all week.  Very worthwhile activity!  She has been recognizing the numbers and counting all week, too. 🙂  Sneaky mommy.