Thursday, 24 January 2013

Best Toddler Toys of the Moment: 2 Years Old



I cannot believe that as of January 20th, 2013, I have a two year old. TWO!! Time has flown by, I remember the days of looking into her little newborn eyes and watching her crawl, walk and now run. She is hilarious and fun and spunky and smart and beautiful and pretty much the perfect two year old ever. I might be a teensy bit biased. Anyway, I thought that now that she is two I would do a toddler toys post. Maybe this will help anyone looking to buy a gift for a toddler or a parent looking at what toys to invest in. As a general rule, we like to have natural toys in our house as well as toys that are a jumping off point for imaginative play. This means things that aren't too intricate, so that the child can imagine different things all the time. It can be hard to imagine a doll with a happy face to be crying or surprised etc. Here are the top six toys Lily plays with on a regular basis. I would say that most if not all of these toys have been played with over the course of the last year but they have become favourites recently. I don't think you need to buy your child toys for every developmental stage but instead buy items that have a range of play. A one year old will certainly play with a doll differently than a two year old and it won't "get old" or boring especially if the toy doesn't have flashy lights or very specific ways you have to play with it. Here are the six I have chosen. Sorry for the pictures, it's 10:19pm and as some of you mama's might know, that is the ONLY time I have to myself.

#1 - Melissa and Doug wooden barn
This is really just an example of something that is geared toward imaginative play. You can take out the animals and use it as a doll house, you can use the animals for other play. I also like that it involves roll play which is really good for emotional development. It's so fun to see the stories she comes up with. The latest one has been putting the animals on a sheepskin and pretending they are in the snow!


#2 - A play silk
This is the most versatile toy ever in existence, if you buy one thing it should be this. At our house, it's a dress, blanket, doll carrier (wrap it around to hold the doll to your child's chest), a landscape for the animals, a tablecloth for tea parties. The list goes on, this thing is amazing. We got ours at a local Waldorf fair but I'm sure you could find them online.


 #3 - A play kitchen

This is a well used item in our house. My dad and I made ours out of an old kitchen cabinet I picked up at the ReStore. It took us a weekend and cost less than $50. There are a ton of tutorials online for this if you're interested. She plays with this like crazy, making "steamed milk", "sandwiches", "cupcakes", "toast", "muffins". You name it, she's "made" it. She also loves to pretend to wash her hands in the sink, she pretends to turn the water on, rubs her hands together under the faucet and declares "all clean!". Of course you will need some play food to go with it, you can make some yourself by cutting it out of felt sheets, needle felt some with roving or knit some!

 #4 - Dolls
I really think every child should have at least one doll, girl and boy. Lily takes her babies with her everywhere, she dresses them up, puts them to sleep, takes them for walks in her stroller (the one we have is from Haba, it's wooden with rubber wheels and can go outside!) Dolls are so great for teaching children empathy, care taking, roll playing, so many things. This little dolly is a 10' waldorf doll from etsy. She's made from cotton and wool and is slightly weighted. 


#5 - BOOKS!!!!
Everyone knows how good books are for kids. Reading is probably the most popular activity in our house. We usually go to the library every 2 weeks to get a new set of books but we do have a few of our own that we like to read over and over.... and over...and over again. Lily has learned so much from reading books, her colours, her shapes, rudimentary counting, social cues, emotional cues, vocabulary. The list goes on, get some books people.

 #6 - Musical instruments
Last but certainly not least. We attend a Music Together class (get your butt to one of these classes, they are all over the world and they are INCREDIBLE!) We like to play at home with instruments, sing songs, drum, play ukulele, shake the maracas, you get the picture. The drum in this picture is a Remo kids tom and it is super durable, it can be used as a footstool or step stool and will last for years.


This list doesn't include every great toy or every item you should have in your house, just some ideas. I think every child should have a range of developmentally appropriate puzzles (Melissa and Doug make great ones), shape sorters, stacking toys and blocks as well. Don't forget about the things that aren't necessarily marketed to children like music, listening to music from around the world with different tempos and key signatures! Really though, kids don't need much, in fact they play a lot longer with items if there aren't too many toys sitting out. Try your best to keep a small selection of toys out and rotate them regularly. If you can't afford to buy toys, try and make them, ask for hand-me-downs or just take out the pots, pans and wooden spoons throw on some music and play away!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Homemade Toddler Advent Calendar: A No Sew Project

pretty scrapbook paper in Christmas colours
supplies

Now what to put in it? Cookie cutters, a stamp set, bouncy balls!

Natural options; a wool roving ornament, a wooden car, a hand dyed play silk

the finished product, it hangs over a door!





I decided that since Lily is almost two that we should start some Christmas traditions. I knew that I wanted to make an advent calendar for her that we could use for years to come. My main problems with making an advent calendar was that for firstly, I don’t have a sewing machine and secondly, I don’t know how to sew. I tried looking on Pinterest for ideas but I just couldn’t find something that fit. I knew I wanted it to be big enough to put enough things for two kids in the future and also be something that would last year to year. After a few nights of searching I came up with the idea to use a shoe organizer with 24 slots. I didn’t even know if those existed but as I started searching, I saw other people had done the same thing and there were lots of bloggers who had made them. Perfect! I went out and got one that day, as well as all of the other supplies. Not including what I had on hand, I think this project cost around $30. 

Here’s what you need:
  • a shoe organizer with 24 spots
  • some pretty paper, I used scrapbook paper
  • craft paper
  • some ribbon
  • clothes pegs
  • a hot glue gun
  • a glue stick
  • scissors
  • a marker/pen
  • items for the 24 days of advent!

Here’s what I did; I cut the paper the correct size to fit over each pouch on the shoe organizer. Then I cut circles in coordinating paper and smaller circles out of craft paper, I then wrote out each number on the craft paper. i did this by hand but you could print them or use stamps. Glue them all together and use the clothes peg to attach each number card to the pouches. I prettied the clothes pegs up a bit by hot glueing some ribbon to each. Then find some fun toddler items to put in! You could do all natural toys, conventional toys, dollar store items, treats, or write an activity for each day. We did a combination of all of those. 

Here’s a few things we had in ours:

Activities:
  • make hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • go look at the Christmas lights
  • go visit Santa
  • make Christmas cookies with mom

Items:
  • bouncy ball
  • stickers
  • farm animals
  • stamp set
  • Christmas ornaments
  • play food
  • Christmas cookie cutters
  • play dough
  • Christmas PJ’s (this will be for X-mas eve!)

You could do anything really, it doesn’t have to be expensive or cost anything at all. The fun of it is the excitement and involving your toddler in the magic of Christmas. I can’t wait to see what happens next year when there are two little girls to participate in advent!

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Many Faces Of Ivy Kathryn Grace: 12 weeks






At 12 weeks old, Ivy goes from sad to happy back to sad again in seconds. She is full of expression and really growing out of her newborn face and into her baby face.

The Many Faces Of Lily Eleanor: 22 Months







Lily has about 15 different faces a minute. I love capturing her little spirit.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Nap Time Crafts: Toddler Felt Christmas Tree

Green felt; my piece is 36x36in, different coloured felt sheets, painters tape and scissors

Fold the greet felt in half and draw one half of a tree (I used my daughters Crayola Markers)

Tape to your wall with painters tape

I used washable markers and a mug to make some ornaments out of the red felt.

Tape the star to the top and place the ornaments on the tree, now your toddler can rearrange as they wish!
Okay... So it's been a while since I've posted anything. I now have TWO daughters and things have been a little busy. More on baby #2 coming.

This post is about a craft I saw on Pinterest that I HAD to do for my daughter Lily. She will be 2 in January (WOW!) and this is the perfect Christmas activity for her.

 Here's how it works, you get a big piece of green felt; cut it into a tree shape or just a triangle if you want and tape it to your wall with painters tape. Then you cut out a bunch of "ornaments" for the tree out of different coloured pieces of felt. The felt ornaments stick to the felt tree so the toddler can rearrange the ornaments as they wish.

Here's what you will need:


  • A big piece of green felt (mine is 36x36 inches)
  • a few different sheets of coloured felt 
  • some painters tape
  • scissors
The whole project cost me $10.50 (I had the painters tape and the scissors). 

This is not my idea, I got the idea from this blog, original post below

http://johnnyinadress.blogspot.ca/2011/12/play-felt-tree-ornaments.html

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

17 weeks Pregnant!

 

Okay, okay, it's a bit of a late announcement but an exciting one none the less. I am 17 weeks pregnant, my official due date is September 11, 2012 (I realize a bit of an ominous day but we are going to reclaim it!). Things have been going well, moderately. Well truthfully, as much as I love pregnancy and the miracle of growing a baby and bringing it into this world, it is so hard. It just is, it is wonderful and beautiful and rewarding and really really hard. At least for me. I am just now coming out of about 10 really rough weeks of nausea and major fatigue. The hardest thing to deal with is not being able to be the wife and mother that I want to be. When I am so sick that all I can do is lie in bed, I can't be on the floor playing with blocks, or helping my lovely husband around the house. I find that really difficult. I feel guilty and useless and frustrated. The upside is, we are going to have a second baby, Lily is going to have a sibling and we are going to be a family of four! I am over the moon. It has been interesting to compare this pregnancy to my pregnancy with Lily. Physically, things have been pretty much exactly the same. I've had the same cravings; lemons, olives, pickles etc, the same nausea and fatigue and the same crazy hormone induced skin break outs. But mentally, this pregnancy has been so different, not that it isn't as exciting as the first time, it is! I just know what to expect and I am so busy with having a busy life that it doesn't hold the same importance as the last one did. I know that sounds awful and it isn't really how I mean it, it is just as special and amazing as the first pregnancy, I just don't have as much time to marvel at the amazing thing(s) that my body is doing! In terms of health, I am doing wonderfully, no complications so far (fingers crossed). We have our first ultrasound on April 13th to make sure that the baby is growing properly and that it's anatomy is all normal. I can't wait to get a peak at our little bub, it always makes things unbelievably real. Anyway, here are some pictures of my belly at 17 weeks, these are the first real photo's I've taken this pregnancy and I will continue to update you as I progress! By the way I am WAY bigger WAY faster with this one, I guess my body just knows what to do but WOW.

Better late than never...?

Ok, so I'm betting you thought I was gone for good. It has been forever and a day since I have done a post and there are NO excuses. BUT... I've been busy! Life with a toddler is super fun, crazy, hectic, did I say crazy!? I wouldn't trade my life for the world but sometimes maybe I would like it to slow down just a little. Dan is in the peak of craziness with school, he's finishing up final projects and getting ready for exams, but pretty soon he's going to have 3 WEEKS OFF! I can't wait to spend more time as a family and just hang out... and maybe clean the house and catch up on laundry. Lots of other fun things have been going on, I've finished my training to become a Music Together teacher (a music teacher for a mix aged class, ages 0-5) and I start teaching my own class in 10 days! I'm pretty excited but also a little nervous. Lily is at such a fun (and busy) stage, she's 14 months and learning new things all the time. She's learning new words, running, climbing... I'll do a full Lily update in a day or two (I promise!), complete with pictures. We have another exciting life change in the works but you are going to have to find out about that in the next post (which I'm going to do now!). Thanks for sticking with my friends, I'm going to do my best to keep you updated on the journey of our life more regularly. Love, Kate.