Monday, January 20, 2014

Toddler Fun

We have been adjusting to life to 3 small kids, and it is very cold outside. Therefore- our trips out have been limited. Not complaining, just explaining the background from which this post stems.

The challenge of keeping 2 toddlers entertained without letting the TV do all the babysitting has been huge. Especially since juggling a newborn leaves little time for complicated activities.

Today I am sharing some of the simple activities that have kept us out of trouble (relatively) so far. No doubt you already have a library so much bigger than this of indoor toddler activities (that work well with a child with a disability), but just in case you are feeling bored yourself- here is what we have been up to lately:

(If you follow me on IG, no doubt you have already seen some of these ideas, but I thought it might be helpful to put these together all in one place)

1. Baths. Oh so many baths.
-with bubbles (blowing bubbles onto the kids while they are in the bath has extended many baths and made them sooooo much more fun. This has also given us many opportunities to work on the "B" sound with Addison. When Carter is yelling "BUBBLES!" over and over...Addison's "B" sounds have dramatically improved as she yells to keep up.)

-with shaving cream (spray them down with shaving cream and instructing them to "wash" also takes up a lot of time and is fun. They end up squealing for "more! more! more!" as soon as the water dissolves the shaving cream suit that they have so carefully "washed" all over their bodies)

-basketball (last night the baby bath was set up next to their bath in the tub. They stood in the bathtub with their small bath play balls and took shot after shot, trying to land the colored balls in the baby's bath. I was surprised- Addison has shockingly good aim. We will be doing this one again.)

2. Coloring/painting
A few Cross connections ago, I was given the idea to completely cover the table with paper and let the kids go crazy with paint. Such a simple idea- and yet perfection.  (LOL Addison's face in this picture)
 With the whole table taped up with paper, I don't have to worry about them keeping the paint on one piece of paper. They can paint the entire table however they want. This is very kid friendly paint, and the paintbrushes with the wide grip have been perfect for Addison's small hands.
 Carter prefers to paint with cars. (We have 2 cars set aside specifically as paint cars)
Normally we start with crayons or chalk and work on our letters/numbers/shapes and then it goes into a free for all painting time as we turn on some tunes. Their current favorite is the 100 Sing Along Songs CD that they got for Christmas. Seriously I love watching Addison dance in her seat while painting away. She often requests "paint. paint." and loves to mix the colors with her brush as we talk about the colors that she is making or sing along to her favorite songs. (I love that this CD includes a lot of Sunday School songs that I had completely forgotten about.)
^^^^^This was a fun morning. We colored, painted, danced to tunes, and then took a shaving cream bath. The activities pair well together since after painting they are usually covered. (-: After it was over? They were ready for lunch and a long nap.

Sometimes we'll color in the morning, use the paper as our lunch table cloth, and then after lunch and nap do painting after their attention span has renewed. There are so many ways to spin this- I can't believe I didn't think to do this years ago when they could first sit up in their booster seats and hold a crayon. It would have saved my walls a lot of abuse! Like I said: perfection.

Cleanup? Fold up paper. Put in Trash. Wash brushes. (and I do usually give them a bath afterwards- but mostly just to continue the entertainment.) I have also heard of saving the paper and using it as wrapping paper. I haven't done that yet- but maybe next Christmas we'll limit our colors to red and green and see if we can paint up some pretty paper.

3. Vocabulary Wall
Addison has always been very hard on books- ripping them every chance she gets. The other day I was organizing through their toys and ended up with an entire bag of book remnants. Instead of tossing them, I taped them all up on a wall (a wall that Carter had previously colored before we started having our table time to get the coloring bug out). Her speech has started really making progress, so I thought that trying this out could maybe help push some more words through- or at least start new conversations with her since she is such a visual learner. This wall is right outside their rooms, and when they walk by after naps or in the morning, we stop to name objects. Vocab wall doesn't take up a ton of time- but small snippets here and there have helped add some more color into their stuck-at-home routine.

My biggest concern with this one would be that they tear them all off the wall. So far they have both tried to tear one off (the same picture too lol) and after one timeout apiece they decided not to touch them again...yet. We'll see how long this lasts, but even if it is a temporary thing it has already been worth it!

Note: When she first saw the wall, she immediately pointed to the "P" and said "P. Papa!" and then pointed to the house and said "House. Papa's House." Mind blown. I had no idea she could do that.

4. Spread-the-water-with-the-sponge 
You might roll your eyes at this one, but they had a blast doing this, and they really helped me out! I was frustrated because the Dining Room floor was soooo sticky and I just couldn't find the time to mop it between diaper changes and feedings. One morning they were bouncing off the walls, so I filled up a small bowl with lukewarm water, squirted in some dish soap, handed them both clean sponges, and told them to spread the water all around the room with their sponges. I got down on my hands and knees and helped them- hitting the corners as they got the main area and the worst of it under the table. When they were done playing in the water, we took one big bath towel, wiped up the excess water, and had a floor that was pretty darn clean. Success!

5. Misc.
I've been working on getting more creative on including them in household tasks. Whether turning laundry folding time into "what color is this shirt?" and "who does it belong to?" time, and having them put their own clothes away (even if it means they get unfolded in the process)- I have been trying to turn basic activities into learning time for all of us. Making them pick up their own toys, put away their own books, throwing trash away, taking their plates to the kitchen counter, and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper- these things all take SO MUCH LONGER than if I would just do them myself, but they have been learning responsibility along with keeping them busy...aka out of trouble.

Carter stacks a mean spice tower while I cook dinner.
 and Addison rolls out pizza crust like the best of them (with some slight help) (-:

Of course we are doing lots of reading, playing with toys, and fiddling around with new apps on the phone...and I'm not going to lie- they have watched a quite a few episodes of Sesame Street, Signing Time, and Thomas the Train- but these activities so far have helped add in some variety while not letting their brains go to mush! And of course...we have a dance party contemplating what the fox says almost every night before bedtime while getting the last of those wiggles out...(-:

Life with toddlers is a constant mix of teaching/terror, and I have found it to be quite interesting adding in the newborn dynamic. Life is never boring for sure!

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