Mess-Free Painting with Your Baby Bee

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I do so much painting and art stuff with Becca, but really wasn’t doing anything in the way of art with Grayson.  Then I read this blog post by CanDo Kiddo… and was like – WOW!  I can do that!  That’s as easy as falling off a log!  Grayson doesn’t have trouble with Tummy Time at all (she suggests it would be fabulous for encouraging a baby who doesn’t like Tummy Time… a fabulous idea!!!) – he’s crawling everywhere, but I still found that he loved seeing something new on the floor and got right in there with squishing the paint!  The end products turned out really fun, and definitely worth keeping as his first works of art!  And of course the bonus was – he wasn’t messy when it was done… and neither was I!

mar 9 mess free paintingSo how do you do it?  It’s simple.  Just trim the ends of some sheets of card stock so that they’ll easily fit in a Ziploc freezer bag.  Then squirt a few drops of squishy finger paint onto the paper, and slip it carefully into the Ziploc bag.  Then get the air out and seal the bag.  Tape it to the floor with painter’s tape, and present the activity to your Baby Bee!  Watch them explore and have so much fun!  Then, when they are done, just cut both sides of the bag off, unzip, and peel it back to reveal the finished art!  Let it dry and then display!

I can’t wait to do this activity with him again sometime soon and use different colors.  He really enjoyed it so so much – and it kept him occupied for a good ten minutes!!

As recommended in the CanDo Kiddo article, you could also tape it to the table, or to a high chair tray if you need an activity off of the floor for your child to do while you do dishes, etc.

Mirror Interaction

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It’s been a while since I did a Baby Bees post, and part of that has been because our Baby Bee is just flying all OVER the place right now and I just can’t keep up!  Crawling, pulling up to his knees, trying to eat everything (he’s teething – aren’t they always teething?), and of course wanting lots and lots of snuggles.

Today’s idea is one that might seem like a “no-brainer,” but it’s easy to forget to carve out time in the DAILY schedule for it.  Even if you just take a couple minutes, make time to put your Baby Bee in front of the mirror DAILY.  You can begin holding Baby Bee up to the mirror once you see that Baby Bee can focus on you and your face, and recognize you from across the room.  At first, Baby Bee won’t recognize him/herself, or you.  But eventually, they will begin to focus on your face in the mirror as you hold them close.  I love love love sharing smiles through the mirror with my Baby Bee (and my Big Butterfly, too!).  Once Baby Bee is secure sitting up alone (with you right behind), a great idea is to use your bathroom vanity for mirror time!  As Baby Bee gets more secure in sitting up, you can step to the side, and let Baby Bee fully interact only with his/her reflection.  It’s an amazing thing to watch.

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Watching themselves in the mirror helps Baby Bees gain confidence in their movements, as they watch the other Baby Bee in the mirror do what they do.  I read this really amazing article from Nat Geo about what animals (specifically dogs, dolphins, elephants, magpies, some great apes, flamingoes, and horses) see in the mirror, and it says it takes human babies 18-24 months to truly “catch on” and realize they are looking at themselves.  It’s so so important to have this mirror interaction time for them to play, experiment, and learn from the Baby Bee that’s staring back at them.

As in my photos, once your Baby Bee is confident sitting up in front of the mirror, and is used to interacting with that other Baby Bee that they see, try adding an object for play.  Grayson played with his hat for several long minutes, and finally began moving his hat to see if the Baby Bee in the mirror would move HIS hat, too!  It was so cute – specifically in the bottom left photo, he picked up his hat, and shook it, then shook it again, intently watching the other Baby Bee in the mirror.  I knew he was done interacting when he looked up at my reflection, held my eyes, and smiled.  (Bottom right.)  We smiled at each other for a minute, but once he found my face, he was done looking at the other Baby Bee in the mirror.

Do you try mirror interaction with your Baby Bee?  Share what activities you have done in front of the mirror!  I’d love to get your feedback!

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The Importance of Family Playtime

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I’m sure you’ve all read those stories about how to set up the perfect movie night, or how to start having a family game night in your home.  If you’re like me, you’ve filed those ideas away for later – when the kids are older.  Those ideas sit in your little folder in the “picture perfect middle school family” file cabinet that your brain refuses to realize may never happen, because the “picture perfect middle school family” might just be a pipe dream.

But what are you doing now?  RIGHT NOW with your baby bees?  I know how hectic the evenings are.  Daddy heads home from work, Mommy starts dinner, sometimes family mealtime happens, or maybe you’re frantically finishing feeding the kids when Daddy walks in the door.  Or maybe you are a single Mommy who works and when you all finally pile into the house in the evening after a long day of work and day care, the last thing you want to think about is anything other than bath-bottle-bed kinda stuff as you long for a few minutes of “me” time.

Might I just challenge you with this post to set aside 30 minutes.  Just 3o.  Goal would be every evening, but goals aren’t always attainable.  So shoot for every other evening to begin with.  And have a family play time.  Not only is this good for your older kiddos, it’s VITAL for your Baby Bee.  Baby Bees learn best through observation.  They’re learning how to move, how to laugh, how to speak, from YOU.  So in amongst all the crazy evening schedules, we have worked to build in 30 minutes with our kids.  We put our phones away (although Mommy often snaps pictures!), the four of us go into Grayson’s room, we close the doors to contain the savage beast (ha!), and all four of us play on the floor together.

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We get to monitor Big Butterfly as she learns to carefully play with Baby Bee, and we also get to interact all four of us together – whether it’s playing with his big Fisher Price train, or reading books, or working puzzles, or building with his tool set, we are in the room with HIS toys that are all safe for him, and we are just hanging out.  Both of our kids have benefited from this time all together so much.  They often end up snuggling up to us, and wanting to be close.  Becca loves to get to play with Grayson’s toys, and to show him how they work.  It is a time of the evening that I have come to cherish – when time almost stands still.  When the stress and worry of the day gets left at the door, and we just go and laugh with our kids.  I hope and pray that you will take time to stop, and start smelling the roses.  Don’t miss the opportunity to spend time with your kiddos.  IMG_2665

Just keep in mind that your Baby Bees are watching.  And learning.  Fill up their little love tanks while they’ll let you… and maybe, just maybe they’ll continue to want that play time with you so that you really can become that “picture perfect middle school family.”  Because before you know it, it’ll be time to start planning those perfect movie nights, and family game nights will no longer be Memory and Candy Land, but Monopoly and Life and Ticket to Ride.

Colored Sensory Tubs

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Now that I do all kinds of interactive sensory bins for Becca, I had to really dig deep to remember how I started with her.  There’s a picture of 8 month old her floating around Pinterest playing with her very first sensory bin… and sadly, the link is broken because my old blog doesn’t exist anymore.  But, it’s a super cute picture, and hopefully the picture alone has given lots of moms ideas.  It brought me back to my “roots” of how to start for him.

It’s as simple as sorting your Baby Bees’ toys by color.  If you’re like us and have an older child, you probably have a MILLION baby toys that your Baby Bee has “adopted” from their older sibling(s).  And then there are the Christmas presents that just never seem to stop, that equip your Baby Bee with even more toys they probably don’t need.  So, take all those excess of toys and turn them into a learning experience!!!

Don’t have an older child and an over abundance of toys?  Just wait!  HA! No, seriously, what I did for Becca was to sort her toys, and then I added additional things that were ok to go in her mouth – like long strips of colored ribbons and fabric tied together into a large knot.  Think dog chew toy.  Seriously, ya’ll, it works for Baby Bees, too.

So, you’ve got all these toys to sort.  What to put them in?  Well, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Dollar Tree.  Get some of their little colored buckets to help you organize.  Then the great thing is, the toys are organized, too… plus they are sensory bins!  Double bonus!!

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Right now, Grayson’s color sensory tubs are for blue, yellow, and red.

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The rest of his toys are also organized in Dollar Tree bins – I especially love the big basket I found for all of his cloth books, which are never organized and needed something larger to just throw them in so they stay off the floor!

As an extension for play for an older sibling, have him or her help you sort the toys.  Let your Big Butterfly help you sort them by color, deciding which color is most prominent on that toy.  Your Big Butterfly can also select which color your Baby Bee will play with – and encourage Big Butterfly to talk to Baby Bee about the color, and point to that color if the toy has multiple colors on it.  If your Big Butterfly is anything like mine, they’ll love the challenge.  Becca is all about teaching Grayson things.  She’s quick to say, “Look, Brother, this is yellow.  And this is yellow.  But Pooh’s sweater is red.  And so is his hat.”  It’s also a great extension to the activity to have Big Butterfly help clean up – remembering to sort the items into the correct bucket.

After they’ve been sorted by color for a while, get creative – sort into soft and hard, or noisy and quiet… so many ideas for using those toys!!

And again, if you don’t have a million toys, first, praise God!  (Seriously, ya’ll, I think we have toys coming out of our ears!!)  Second, look for things around your house that would be safe that you could add to the toys you do have. Do you have colored washrags?  Do you have colored plastic bowls or plates that perhaps your Baby Bee isn’t ready to eat off of just yet?  Look for items at Dollar Tree that could be considered “toys” now, and could grow with your child – like colored plastic cups that for now can be a toy and later they can drink out of.  Or those little plastic measuring cups that right now they can just chew on, but later they can use in a sensory bin and then later use to learn about measuring.  If you feel your Baby Bee is lacking in soft stuffed animals, Dollar Tree also has a million of those… or we could donate a few to your cause. 😉  Remember, however, that with your Baby Bee, less is more.  You don’t need a box of 30 red items.  5 is plenty.  Ideally, they’ll have different textures, weights, etc, but even if you have five identical items, it’s all good.  The focus is to introduce colors.

As your Baby Bee gets a tad older, you can begin providing two tubs to play with, and see if your Baby Bee gravitates toward one color or the other, and see if Baby Bee can put the items back in the bucket.  (At 7-9 months Baby Bee should be really awesome at pulling everything out of the bucket, and may begin to start setting things back inside closer to the beginning of the 10th month.  Don’t expect color sorting til Baby Bee is much older – for some Baby Bees, color sorting between two colors won’t happen until well after Baby Bee’s first birthday.  Remember always – every Baby Bee is unique and different!)

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Colored sensory tubs are a great way to keep your Baby Bee happy during tummy time, and encourage Baby Bee to keep reaching for toys, trying to crawl, and practicing rolling!

Learning Ideas for your Baby Bees

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Up until this point, my blog has mainly focused on Becca (my butterfly), and preschool learning activities – because that’s what I’ve been in the “thick of” around here.  But, that’s beginning to change as Grayson gets older!  I started sensory bins and learning activities with Becca at 8 months, and Grayson will be 8 months later this month.  Physically, however, he’s much more ready for some of the activities than she was.  So, we’ll be starting slow, but you can look forward to some Baby Bees posts every other Monday for the next few months.

The goal behind these posts is to give moms of babies UNDER 18 months some ideas of what you can do at home other than stare at the four walls!  We’ll also take a look at a couple various learning methods (Montessori and Reggio specifically) and how you can apply these learning methods in your home with your Baby Bee.

I’d also love to get some feedback from you – what ideas do you need?  Are there certain times of the day that are harder to fill than others?  Are you nervous about getting your baby out in nature?  When is the right time to start outdoor play, etc?  Or maybe you want ideas about getting older siblings involved in activities with your Baby Bee?  So many directions I can take this series – and I’d love for you to guide my posts!  Shoot me an email any time at butterbeesandbumbleflies@gmail.com!

The first post will go live next Monday the 19th!  Be sure to check back here then!  (If you’re not already following via email, you can set that up easily by clicking on the link to the right – and be sure to click “like” to follow my Facebook page as well!)

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