To say we were excited when Katie from @happilyevermom fame agreed to write a guest blog post for us is just a bit on an understatement! You HAVE TO CHECK OUT her amazingly simple yet engaging activities over on Instagram, Facebook and her website! She will make you realize that play based learning at home can be achievable with everyday items, and little to no prep! Sounds too good right? We're not lying, read on to see for yourself!
I love easy play ideas for my baby (click the link for over 45 of them!). If you have a baby who's not quite yet an active toddler, but not a newborn or sitting baby anymore, you know exactly what I mean...
Babies need easy ways to play at home!Or, they'll end up pulling open all the kitchen drawers and destroying your home in approximately 2.3 seconds. I know, I've been there. I *am* there... The tricky part is that activities can't be too complicated at this age or it will frustrate your baby (and you too!). These five simple play ideas are exactly what I do at home with my baby at home and I guarantee they'll be a hit with your little one too!
Poker Chip Box
I have to tell you something: Poker chips are magical for babies. They’re the best because babies can mouth them without choking on them... (of course, don't just blindly believe me, check your set first!!). To make this fun baby game, turn over a diaper box and you'll see that there is an opening that is just big enough for a poker chip to slide through. Show your little one how to slide the poker chips through the slot and watch the magic as they figure out how to play this game!
Why do this activity with babies?This game builds their pincer grasp which is important for future skills like zipping zippers, picking up small finger foods, and grasping a pencil to write with. It also works baby's hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. It may look simple, but there is a lot that baby can learn here with little to no prep!
Like we've been discussing above, baby activities can be SUPER hit or miss. But, there are few things more engaging for kids than water! Start by inviting baby to explore something simple like a small amount of water in a dish or bin. You don’t need much at all. Water is surprisingly fun. As long as you don’t try to wash their hair... My youngest plays with a water bin almost daily now, but we started off small by adding a few blocks/tools to a bin with a little bit of water. The first time that I gave this bin to him: he sat in it, slipped on the floor, and gave me a heart attack. But I learned a few things like keeping a towel nearby and staying close to talk to him and ask questions. I kept trying because I know that over time and as he grows, he’ll come to use this bin more and more efficiently.
Why do this with babies?Sensory activities are as easy as putting a little water in front of a baby. They get to touch the water, experience cause and effect as they splash the water, and learn basic life skills like pouring, dumping, and scooping. Add a few kitchen tools like a ladle and strainer to make this bin even more engaging.
The thing about 1-2 years olds is that they get frustrated easily. They want to feed themselves, run into the street, and keep mommy up all night long but, try as they might, the world keeps telling them “no” or “not yet little one!” We want to give these guys loads of independence when we can. That’s why this simple game is a WINNER. It’s not too hard, but it’s not boring either. So what is it? It’s an egg carton that’s flipped over. I slit holes on the bottom of each egg carton and then stuck a pencil through it to make the opening a little bigger. Give your baby a few q-tips and BAM... you’ve got the perfect game for older babies to push the q-tips into the openings. My son LITERALLY looked at me and smiled when I set this down for him so it has my son’s stamp of approval.
Why do this with babies?Here's another opportunity to work on pincer grasp (see the first activity for more details). And, look at the concentration and focus that it takes for a baby to push the q-tip into the correct hole?! There is loads of learning going on with simple things you already have at home!
This might be my favorite baby toddler game of all time. There is so much going on here like it’s easy to set up and you'll actually get to drink warm coffee, but here’s the REAL magic —> this is a fab way to work on object permanence. I know that this doesn’t need much explanation, but here’s how to play:
- Gather lids and small toys.
- Put the toys in each muffin tin and cover with a lid.
- Your baby will figure out the rest!
- Then, refill and recover to play again and again.
Why do this with babies?Remember this from psych 101? According to Jean Piaget, object permanence occurs during infancy until around 2 years old. What is object permanence? It’s a baby’s understanding that an object still exists even when they can’t see it - like when the animals are hidden under these lids. Did the animals disappear? Or are they still there? Your baby will begin to figure that out as they play this game!
Have you heard of a sticky wall?? You're going to want to run to the kitchen section of your grocery store or Pharmacy like Rite Aid because that is where you'll find contact paper. Peel back the paper on the contact paper roll and tape it to a wall or window nice and low for baby to reach. Just make sure that the sticky side faces out. Use lots of tape here, friend, don’t be stingy! Then, grab anything lightweight like this foam puzzle that I got in the dollar section at Kmart. If objects are too heavy, they will pull down the contact paper. Stick the puzzle pieces to the contact paper and ask the baby to grab the pieces off.
Why do this with babies?
This is a new way to engage baby's sense of touch by experiencing something sticky. Babies learn cause and effect as they pull down and stick the letters back on to the sticky wall. You'll also see that baby is flexing his/her fine motor muscles again as they grab each letter. This is a fun and engaging activity, but oh so simple to set up!
Katie Joiner | Happilyevermom.com
Thank you so much Katie for showing us just how simplicity saves the day when it comes to keeping your baby entertained. We cannot recommend enough the benefits of visiting Katie's website, Instagram and Facebook. So many fun play based learning ideas!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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