Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Great Gifts for Toddlers 2 to 3

At two kids start to enjoy roll play. Think dress up, acting like Mom/Dad, pretending to answer a phone with the beginning of a conversation (Hello), cooking, pretending play is really beginning to bloom. Conversation is also starting to take off and by the time they are three it is amazing how far they have come. Gross motor skills become more refined as so fine motor skills. Things like kicking a ball, playing basketball on a short hoop, riding a tricycle are great skills to hone in on. Art starts to be come really fun at this age, gluing, cutting with scissors, painting, writing with large crayons/markers, stringing things like beads are all great for developing fine motor skills. 

Many of the previous suggestions (1-2 year, 6-12 month) still work as wonderful toys with more refined ability, instruments like bells, balls, push toys, ride on, music, etc. 

Here are a few new things to add to the list: 

1. Games: There are some really great games that come in to play at two. We love this one by Haba, which I reviewed previously:

Haba has a great line of games and toys that are both fun and require brain power to play with. 
2. Art supplies:
Crayola has a line of art supplies just for this age group and they are okay but I actually find that my kids both enjoy more traditional crayons/markers/paints and usually can use them at least as well if not better than the ones crayola put out for this age group. That being said crayola does have great crayons, markers, and finger paints. 

These triangular crayons are really helpful in getting the right grip:

But I have to say that my favorite drawing medium for this age are these Colorix:

They are so easy to glide on and create bright, vibrant colors with. For those just learning it is a lot easier than crayons. 
3. Role Play items:
Think telephone, kitchen set, shopping cart, dolls, vacuum/broom and other things that your child sees on a daily basis being done by adults. Does Mom or Dad have a brief case, a brief case might be a good choice. A pretend lap top, a baby to take care of, all of these things that help the child to learn the roles they see going on around them every day.
We are lucky enough to have quite a few of these things, a few of the most used are: baby dolls, telephone, vacuum and brief case. 

4. Dress up to go along with role play getting items to dress up in is something that my kids love! If you have a Doctor kit at home this Doctor outfit might work well:

Melissa and Doug also has many other great costume sets, fire fighter, construction worker, and many others. 

 5. The song Let's Go to Work by Kira Willey, this is one of my favorite new songs. I might like it more than anyone else in my family, it is so so so cute. 

6. Playdoh and things to use with playdoh, of course there are tons of recipes that are really easy and cheap to make but here is a link to a set of playdoh must haves that are perfect for working with any playdoh you make.
7. A trike or balance bike with no peddles is great for learning the mechanics for riding a bike (hint the most important thing is confidence about balance)

8. Not forgetting bike safety training, a helmet

9. A night light. Towards the end of this year in particular is when toddlers start to get scared of being in the dark room. This turtle has a timer so if they fall asleep it does not stay on all night. 

There are also some cute ones that can be easily be taken off the plug unit and carried to another room. 

10. Sensory table, great for learning about new textures and how things scoop and pour. Change out the medium from sand or water, to noodles or rice sensory learning is always fun for a toddler.

I hope this is helpful. What are your favorites for this age? 

Also check out this list of great toys to get for 1-2 year olds


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Super Hero Birthday Party

My little five year old is now six! I can't believe it.

Before his party I asked him what kind of theme he wanted (to him this means what does he want on his cake). He decided on Superman and I went to work searching Pinterest and Google to find activities for a Super Hero party, cake ideas, and decoration ideas. I made a whole Pinterest board for AB's birthday (you can follow me on pinterest in the sidebar to the right if you want to see it). I showed him the options and he choose his cake.

Now let me say that finding a Superman figurine the day of the party is not a good idea for any of you that wait until the last minute to put the finishing touches on things (ummmmmmm, okay me). I ended up improvising. I bought Superhero League stickers at Michael's Craft Store about two hours before the party because they had a Superman sticker. I then stuck the sticker to a piece of paper and ran it through my scanner to enlarger said picture. I glued it to card stock, cut around it, added tin foil to the bottom of the enlargement, and stuck it in the cake as the "figurine". Also I am not actually a cake decorator, I just play one at home, so I use plastic bags to pipe frosting and pretty much make things up as I go.

I did make a flour-less chocolate cake again for this cake and made french butter cream frosting which is so much better that that sickly sweet other stuff.

I had decided on doing a Superhero training camp, target practice (bean bag toss), and building a super hero hide out or vehicle with legos as activities. It was wild, crazy, and I think fun.

Then we had super foods for super heroes, veggies and hummus, guacamole and sweet potato or corn chips, a variety of fruit, sparkling water and 100% juice, water flavored with orange slices, and cheese sticks.

Thanks to my Mom for taking photos :)