Thursday, May 27, 2010

Balloon Balls

This was a fun , easy, and inexpensive project.  And my kids loved it!

Balloon Balls

Materials Needed:
(to make 4 balls)
- 1 lb. lentils
- 12 12" balloons
- funnel
- scissors

Here's How:
Take one balloon and blow it up.
Don't tie the end off, but hold it closed for 30 seconds or so to stretch it out.
Deflate the balloon and stretch the opening over the funnel.

Pour 1/2 - 3/4 c. of lentils into the funnel, pushing them down into the balloon as you go.

Once the balloon is full, take another balloon and cut off the neck
(Cannon's favorite part was cutting!)

Now cut the thicker round end off of the balloon that you filled with lentils.
Stretch the neck around the balloon to keep them from falling out.

Now take the balloon that you cut the entire neck off of (the pink one),
and stretch it around the lentil filled balloon (to keep the neck closed and in place).

Now take a third balloon and cut the neck off of it completely.
(This picture shows the orange end cut off, and now the orange balloon is tucked inside of the pink one.  The white balloon also has the neck cut off so it can go around the pink one.)

Now take the white balloon and stretch it around the pink layer (making the 3rd and final layer).
Be sure and cover the opening of the pink balloon completely to seal it off.

And you're done!

Now make 3 more with your remaining lentils and balloons.

These balls feel really cool!
They have a very squishy, soft texture, and my boys LOVED it!

Perfect for throwing, squishing and rolling.

They are just the right size for little hands.

AND... they have successfully survived Lincoln!
Who has chewed, slobbered and tried to mangle them on a daily basis!
Totally kid proof!

Have fun!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Peek-A-Boo Box

I have heard of and seen this idea a few times, so I decided to give it a go.
This is a good exercise for kids of all ages, working on varying goals.

I call it the Peek-A-Boo Box.

The idea is to put a bunch of objects into a can (or a babywipe container in my case).
The objects need to be hidden from view, so
if you use a can (one that held formula, hot chocolate, etc), cut the toes of a tube sock off and stretch one end around the opening.  That way the kids can reach through the sock without seeing what is inside.

Like I said, this can be used for several different activities.
For Lincoln (almost 2), I use it specifically for object recognition and speech.

Since we just had his tubes put in a few weeks ago, this is a good way for him to associate objects with the sound of the word.
Once he pulls out an object, his attention is solely on whatever he has in his hand, so it is easy for me to say "dog", "spoon", and so on.
Or you could work on colors, shapes, what sound the animal makes, etc.

For Cannon (age 4), it is a good problem solving exercise.

When he puts his hand in I tell him to try to identify what it is he is holding on to.
Or I ask him if he can find the horseshoe, the car, etc.

Another good exercise would be to practice textures: asking your kids if they can find the soft / hard / squishy objects.
You can easily mix it up for whatever will work best for you and your kids.

Other objects my kids enjoy pulling out of the box are cause and effect toys:
pop-ups, wind and release toys, etc.

I think next time I will use a can instead of a babywipe container.
Some of my objects were too big to get out with my kids' fists wrapped around them.

Either way, this is a quick activity that can get some mental juices flowing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

3 Things that Determine your Child's Behavior

This is another great 'rule' of child behavior.

I consider this a good wake up call for parents.
I believe every child has behavior problems at some point.
Realizing that your child has behavior issues is one thing - taking responsibility for them is something completely different.

This principle goes in line with some of the previous posts I have written on child behavior, so in a way it is a recap.
(Once again, this information was given to me from a child behavior specialist; my friend Marsha Lima).

Just keep this in mind the next time your kid acts out:
There are 3 things a parent can do that will determine how their child is going to behave.
These are how they present, react, and respond to their kids.

* Presentation:
*How do you present things to your children?
Are you using the appropriate words? (Asking vs. Telling)
Do your order or demand?
Are you respectful?

* Reaction:
What is your reaction to things that they do?
Are you quick to judge?
Are you understanding?
Are you responding to the first positive sign of communication?

* Response:
How do you respond to your children?
Are you kind?
Do you yell?
Do you mean what you say?

The more I have thought about how these things, the more I am able to discern what I need to work on.
There is always room for improvement.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chinese Checkers = Fine Motor

Anyone who knows my family well enough knows that I am always on the lookout for fine motor activities; especially those that emphasize on the pincer grasp.

Chinese Checkers was a favorite game for me growing up, but I don't have one of my own.

When Cannon wanted to play a game at Grandma's, it ended up being a perfect exercise for him.

Originally, I only intended it to be a pincer grasp activity:
He has a hard time using his left hand, so he has to position it perfectly in his right before the left can take over...

He still uses more than just his thumb and forefinger, but because it had to go inside of the hole, it forced him to focus more on the correct thumb and forefinger positioning.

This was also a good activity for object manipulation.  Having him pick up the piece with one hand, and try to manipulate it using only his fingers to get the right positioning was hard with such a small object, but it was a good exercise.

We were able to think of plenty of ways to keep it interesting.
Other than just letting him be creative and design his own thing, we worked on trying to form individual shapes:

It also turned out to be a good game to practice organizing and sorting.

Obviously a good way to sort colors.

Most importantly, it can be easy to take everyday household items and turn them into activities that your kids need to work on for personal improvement.

Find a way to make it fun, and they will acutally want to cooperate.

As I mentioned before, I am always on the lookout for simple activities like these.  I would love to hear what works for you in your home...