We all know that The American Academy Of Pediatrics does not suggest any screen time before the age of 2 years old! What I find so funny is many families we service are in a state of shock! Today, families are resorting to screen and television time at extreme rates. Can we remember when children were entertained without it? I sure do! We know, you say well what do I do with my children, then you say does it really matter what they watch? Then you ask what if it is a children’s show, because there are so many of those now.  Sorry to burst the bubble, all are the same and it is not healthy for brain development. We are going to explain to you why and hope that you will rethink your ideologies. Trust, it is only difficult because we see it everywhere today, even in our home we make a conscious habit of turning it off.  So let’s jump right in!

Photo Credit: Imagery Majestics

According to The New Yorker, by The American Academy Of Pediatrics “Since the AAP made its original recommendations in 1999, passive entertainment screens — televisions, DVD players, computers streaming video — have become ubiquitous, and the average 12-month-old gets between one and two hours of screen time per day. (Interactive screens, such as iPads and other tablets, are considered in the new recommendations.) The 0 – to 2-year age group has become a prime target for commercial educational programming, often used by parents convinced that it’s beneficial”. This should say a lot to your family! Whoa, who would have thought? So why are so many families engaging in excessive screen time and how do we fix it?

  1. Screens are not to be used as rewards or punishment – Doing this will allow your children to feel as if it is more important, it should not be an important object in your home. This also gives you as a parent time to see where else you can stop using certain items as reward or punishment. Allowing it to be seen as a sometimes event will maximize the conversation, while your family engages in any screen time. Use this time to communicate with your child, ask questions, what do they like or dislike? How are their emotions while watching?  If age-appropriate you can even discuss TV ads and commercials and get an understanding of your child’s thought process.
  2. Allow children to problem solve, and entertain themselves – Did you know that even an infant can be allowed time to entertain themselves? Learning problem solving and enhancing cognitive skills is a life lesson for your child. According to Dr. Ari Brown, media, even in the background distracts infants and toddlers from play. There have been studies proven that language development can be diminished and developmental delays may become present.  Children’s brains grow profoundly in the first 5 years of life. The issues come when children can be learning how to interact and engage and we do not allow it.  Proven fact, is that a paren speaks about 940 words per hour to their small children and with screens even in the background that number drops between 600-700. Do you want to take those risks with your children? If you are what you eat, then you are what your brain experiences a philosopher once said. Even though infants and toddlers stare, their brain is incapable of making the connections and sense of what is going on with screen time.
  3. Make all meal times, family time – This can be such a lifelong lesson in your home, use the time to engage in physical touch, use eye contact, positive words and modeling behavior. This also allows you the on-on-one time with your child to get to understand and know them better. Doing this will help with language and self-compassion.   Try not to create separation in your home just for screen use.

Photo Credit: Imagery Majestics


—Jessica Howard, Little Pnuts Educational Play BloggerFounder and CEO of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off in NYC.

It’s almost Summer! Why not take a favorite seasonal item, the Beach Ball, your Little Pnuts and have some fun while teaching Cooperative Play. A great play date activity with several of your Little Pnuts friends!

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Several Colorful Beach Balls
  • A gathering of Little Pnuts

 

How to Play 

First have all the Little Pnuts stand in a circle.

Begin by throwing a few beach balls into the air. Have all the Little Pnuts do what they can to keep the beach balls from hitting the ground. Have them test out using different body parts to touch the ball; their feet, hands, shoulders, chest and heads, utilizing coordination to keep the balls from touching the ground. Instruct them that they are not allowed to touch anyone else in the process to prevent injury.

Once a ball hits the ground it is removed from play. As the balls get fewer in play, the object is to see if they can use team work to keep the balls from touching the ground. Have your Little Pnuts give directions to one another, alerting their “team mates” when the ball is near, have them communicate to each other taking turns to keep the ball up and where the ball is, thus avoiding collisions.

 

Variations on Play

To add a bit of challenge add more balls to the game. This allows for increased concentration and focus as well as having your Little Pnuts pay closer attention to their surroundings while simultaneously working to not to bump into someone else. This variation also assists in balance and coordination, while keeping focus on the ball they are trying to keep off the ground.

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Gross Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Cognitive Development, Coordination, Cooperative Play, Communication, Team Work.

 

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, Mother of 2, founder of Little Pnuts.
 
 

Getting creative and recycling are two things that go together perfectly – Hand in Hand. Why not get creative with your Little Pnuts and have a painting party with some old paper towel or toilet paper rolls. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A variety of Cardboard Paper Towel & Toilet Paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paint (Watercolor, homemade paint, tempera, etc.)
  • An old pan or painting tray
  • An old paint roller
  • Large sized sheet or rolled paper
  • Foam Sheets, Old Sponges to cut shapes out of or Foam Shapes
  • Leaves, flowers even petals 

 

Creating the Rollers

To create rollers, if old enough, simply have your Little Pnuts cut out a variety of shapes from an old sponge or foam if too young use store-bought foam shapes or even use items that you’ve found in nature.  Next, have your Little Pnuts glue them on to the cardboard rolls. Have your Little Pnuts spread the shapes out over the area to create random patterns or affix them in a line to create a continuous pattern.

Play

Once your rollers are completed and the glue is dry, have your Little Pnuts slide their rolls over the old painting rollers to keep them intact. Next, have them dip the rollers into the paint carefully allowing only a thin layer of paint and allowing the excess paint drip into the pan. Once the paint is applied evenly on the rollers,  have your Little Pnuts run them gently over the paper. Let them get creative with the patterns and see if they can create purposeful patterns or elusive patterns while they paint. Your Little Pnuts will have a blast as their imagination and creativity take over their artwork.

Variation on the Rollers

In addition to stamp rollers, your Little Pnuts can also create shape rollers. Have your Little Pnuts carefully manipulate the open end of the cardboard roll into shapes, such as a heart or a diamond, an oval or a square, for the extreme challenge try a star. For a little luck try a shamrock gluing 4 heart-shaped rolls together. Once the chosen shape has been created, have your Little Pnut dip the end of the cardboard roll into the paint, press on paper to create the outline of the shape they have made.

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Cognitive Development, Gross Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Creative Play, Imaginative Play.

 

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, Mother of 2, founder of Little Pnuts.
 
 
 

Image Credit: PreKPlay

Spring and Summer are simply an invitation for daily outside play. Why not incorporate the joy of blowing bubbles with the creativity of painting. Adding a little color to your Little Pnuts bubbles takes bubble blowing to a whole new level of fun!

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Pre-Made Bubble Solution or Homemade (recipe below)
  • A low rimmed dish to hold the bubble solution
  • Tempera Paint (liquid not powder) or Food Coloring
  • Various sized Bubble Wands or make their own from pipe cleaners, cookie cutters, paper clips, etc.
  • Sheets of Water Color Paper, Paper Towels or Regular Paper 
  • An easel if you have one

 

Homemade Bubble Solution Recipe

  • 1/2 cup dishwashing detergent (JOY works best)
  • 4-1/2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons glycerin (available in most pharmacies)

Have your Little Pnut help in mixing together all the ingredients in a bowl, stirring slowly and gently, once mixed thoroughly allow the mixture to stand. The longer you allow the solution to stand the bigger the bubbles and the longer they seem to last.

Creating the Bubble Paint

Whether using the homemade recipe or store-bought bubbles, divide the solution into a variety of containers, one for each color you plan on making. Have your Little Pnuts add a few drops of paint or food coloring to each container creating the color of their choosing. As they are creating the colors, have them name the colors and tell you whether they are using a primary color or if they are creating a secondary color by mixing two primaries together. This allows them to really think about why and what they are making while learning how to formulate the idea prior to creating.

Creating the Wands

If not using pre-made wands have your Little Pnuts scavenger through the house in search of objects they can use as wands – paperclips, pipe-cleaners, cookie cutters, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, straws and twigs would work. Simply have your Little Pnut bend and manipulate the objects to form a continuous shape. Testing out different materials and shapes allows your Little Pnut to really think practically and logically. While they are figuring out their shapes, discuss with them their methodology and reasoning, this expands cognitive development. We recommend using one wand per color of bubble solution so as not to mix the colors.

Painting with Bubbles

Time to paint. Simply dip wands into the colored solutions and have your Little Pnuts blow while aiming at the paper. The object is to have the bubble land and pop on the paper leaving behind a colored imprint. Get creative by letting them blow multiple bubbles at a time, or have your Little Pnuts attempt a strategy at creating an image by aiming one single bubble at a time to create a predetermined pattern. Regardless of which variation your Little Pnut chooses, this activity is sure to provide hours of fun.

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Gross Motor Skill Development, Fine Motor Skill Development, Cognitive Development, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Creative Thinking, Imaginative Play.

 

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, Mother of 2, founder of Little Pnuts
 
 
 

Photo Credit: Cheltanham Parks.

When we think of Play and Structured Play, we immediately realize that observation skills and learning go hand in hand. Both are highly beneficial to your child’s development. Do you often ask, “What is Child Development”? According to Kid Sense Child Development, “Children’s development occurs across a range of skill areas including: physical (motor) skills, speech and language, social and emotional, cognitive and intellectual abilities”.  Monitoring of Child Development is crucial to your child’s success, while making sure their milestones are being met. Let’s delve into helping your families use three techniques to take your fun playtime and make it slightly more structured, you can do this without your child even knowing they are learning! Here it goes!

  1. Introduce (1-2) specific concepts for daily playtime sessions – Choose specific times whether early morning or after afternoon snack to structure your child’s play. Get on their level and engage with them. Find something you know your child likes and set up an activity around it. This could take place at the carpet, table, or outside on a walk. Use props, materials and high energy. Ask open-ended questions, discuss observations, and use visual cues. Your child can go into any direction they choose and you follow their lead, this will make a huge difference for the future. This will offer a wealth of knowledge for the child.
  2. Create a home model of an educational space/classroom – This can be used for children infant to preschool. Purchase bins, drawers, chairs etc. and turn your child’s entertainment space into an educational realm. This means having everything in its order and all materials having a home. I.E. books on a shelf, small table and chairs for art, puzzle rack, stuffed animals on a shelf, cars in a bin. This will give it a structured look and even free play will be semi-structured.
  3. Use team building and appropriate social skills on playdates – We encourage children having play dates and or friends. A play date is the perfect time to see what developmental, and social level your child is on. Use special techniques to discuss emotions, proper sharing techniques, and listen to the language they use with peers. Take notes, and see how you can improve these for the next visit. Encourage success using positive words and modeling appropriate behavior.

    Photo Credit: Cheltanham Parks.


—Jessica Howard, Little Pnuts Educational Play BloggerFounder and CEO of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off in NYC.

Photo Credit: Nathaniel S.

What is Play? What is structured and unstructured play? Do you ever wonder or think, is my child playing too much or not at all? When my child plays is it even educational or developmentally appropriate? As Early Childhood Development Specialists we are here to tell you, Play can be the most beneficial and important stage of your child’s life from infancy to their preschool years! Wow, You Say!  Well come on already, ask us why?

Well according to the Academy of Pediatrics, play contributes to the physical, emotional, cognitive and social skills of your child. Play also gives that time for parents and or caregivers to be fully engaged with the child. With the new movement of academics and curriculum being pushed down earlier, and with the new rush of technology many families are not engaging in play like generations ago. We know there are 2 different types of play; free play– which is when children are left to amuse themselves in any way, and use their imagination without any direction or guidance from adults. We have even witnessed some free play unsupervised for older children. Structured Play-, which is when children are given direction and or guidance in specific activities to broaden and or develop the necessary skills for their current stage of development. Both types are necessary, but more structured play can be utilized with you at home, used with nannies, and or when deciding on how to choose a school for your children.

Below are the top 5 ways to engage in more structured play with your children, to take their individual development to the next level. The key is to practice being in a conscious state as much as possible to notice what you are doing and how to adjust- not to make yourself try to be perfect.  Show your children, you can get down and dirty too!

  1. Provide new ideas and learning opportunities- Next time you are home, or the caregiver is with your child, let the child peruse around to find 2-3 of their favorite toys. Use these toys as an opportunity to ask open-ended questions, discuss observations, and use visual cues and so forth. This will open your child’s mind to answering questions (even if they can not speak). This will further benefit their comprehension and cognitive skills for the future. Make a commitment to begin this once a day!
  2. Boost up the physical activity and motor play- Do you understand how important active play is for growing children? Make use of a playground, museum, taking a walk, and or playing a movement game at home. Your child will love playing leapfrog, roll over my friend, or hop and jump scooter at home. Make up games, and remember they do not have to be lengthy; using 15 minutes to begin is just as suitable.
  3. Emotional Tolerance/Social Skills/Team Building- Children need to be given outlets and techniques for handling their emotions. Guiding our children to learn how to behave and what is expected in every situation is crucial. Learning how to work as a team, even if it is just you and baby, or sibling and baby. These are skills for life. Find games to encourage team building, kindness and concern for not only themselves but also others.
  4. Encourage Their Use of Imagination- In today’s society we do not see many people still dreaming or understanding how important it is to use your imagination. Begin on a weekday and take 15 minutes to create imaginary fun. This will not only boost their self-esteem, but also have your child engage with either words or facial expressions to show you how they are feeling. Encourage the love of books and reading by bringing life into your story time, imagination goes a long way.
  5. Take notes on your child’s developmental level- This is an important step, begin taking notes about where you feel developmentally your child is. Check out the CDC, website to get a guideline of where your child should be for their age. Use this to challenge them as you create more activities. Have fun, this is what childhood and parenting is all about. You and your child were made for each other and have a special gift together. Work on that gift, master that gift and teach others.

 

Photo Credit: Shane O’ Mac


—Jessica Howard, Little Pnuts Educational Play BloggerFounder and CEO of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off in NYC.

 

What a better way to celebrate Earth Day, everyday, than by creating an activity with recyclables with your Little Pnut?  Don’t toss those cardboard boxes to the curb…save them up and create some Giant Duct Tape Building Blocks instead!


 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A variety of sturdy cardboard boxes in different sizes. Diaper boxes work great for this activity as do Little Pnut Special Delivery Boxes.
  • Several rolls of duct tape (we used a few different primary colors)

 

Creating the Blocks

To create your blocks, simply wrap each cardboard box tightly and evenly with duct tape. The duct tape adds enough stability so that if your boxes were sturdy to begin with, younger Little Pnuts can actually climb on them!

Play

These fun, mega-sized blocks have infinite possibilities.  Younger Little Pnuts will enjoy exploring the physical properties of the blocks by pushing, climbing, stacking, and sitting on them.  Older Little Pnuts can add to the fun by building towers and using the blocks for imaginative play.  Build some walls and drape a blanket across the top for a totally awesome fort!  If you’ve used different colors, engage your Little Pnut in some fun color learning activities with the blocks.  Building with blocks of any size is an excellent early math activity as well.

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Cognitive Development, Gross Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration, Imaginative Play

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 
 
 

Looking for a creative way to challenge your Little Pnut’s fine motor skills? Try spaghetti threading!  This is a fun activity that is easy to set up using items that you may already have in your pantry or craft closet!


 
 
 
 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A few uncooked spaghetti noodles
  • Play dough
  • Small items to thread onto the spaghetti – we have used pony beads, Cheerios, colored pasta, etc.

 

Set Up and Play

Form your play dough into a large ball or mound.  Stick one end of your spaghetti noodles into the ball so you have a giant “porcupine.”  Show your Little Pnut how to thread the small items onto the noodles one at a time.

Variations

Younger Little Pnuts may have more success if you substitute thin dowel rods for the noodles and use larger beads for threading.  To make the activity more challenging, use multi-colored items for threading and turn it into a color-sorting exercise by assigning a different color to each noodle. Work on early math skills by drawing numbers out of a cup and having your Little Pnut thread the corresponding amount of items onto the spaghetti.  For groups of Little Pnuts, make it into a game by using a timer and seeing how many items each player can thread onto the spaghetti in 60 seconds.  The player with the most items is the winner! As always, we are proponents of learning through play, so if your Little Pnuts get bored with the structured activity, let them use the materials for free play – you might be surprised at what they can build with spaghetti and play dough!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 

 

Looking for a fun Easter activity for your Little Pnut? Why not try your hand at making some sensory eggs?  Your Little Pnut will enjoy hiding, finding, and examining these eggs over and over again!

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • 1 package plastic Easter eggs
  • Hot glue gun
  • Assorted embellishments 

Make the Eggs

This activity is limited only by your imagination.  Your mission is to take your plain plastic eggs from drab to fab by embellishing them with items that will delight the senses of your Little Pnut.  Be sure to glue your eggs shut before you begin (fill some of your eggs with pinto beans or rice before securing them so your Little Pnut can shake them and listen to the different sounds they make).  Need ideas?  Choose items that not are not only visually interesting, but add texture to the eggs as well (think rough, smooth, bumpy, soft, etc.).  We used buttons, sparkly pom-poms, strips of fabric and leather, sequins, plastic gems, pipe cleaners, yarn, feathers, and sandpaper to embellish our eggs.

Let’s Play!

There are so many fun ways your Little Pnut can play with these eggs.  Younger Little Pnuts will be content just to examine the eggs closely or put them in and out of a basket or other container.  Help your Little Pnut develop object permanence by hiding the eggs under colorful play silks and helping them to discover them again.  Older Little Pnuts will enjoy using these to practice egg-hunting skills for the big day!  Hunting for eggs is a great opportunity for language stimulation – in addition to describing the sensory properties of your eggs, you can also practice prepositions (is the egg beside the tree or behind the tree?) and following directions (find the shiny green egg).   Another fun idea – place all the eggs in a bag or box with a hole in the top and have your Little Pnut stick a hand inside. Your Little Pnut can try describing the eggs he/she feels or finding eggs that match your descriptions.

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Sensory Exploration, Language Development, Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 

 

 

 
 

Now that Spring is just around the corner, it’s a great time of year to explore colors with your Little Pnut.  Painting can be a wonderful way to introduce colors and color mixing, as well as a whole-body sensory extravaganza! Worried about your Little Pnut tasting the paint? Never fear! We’ve got you covered with this flour-based paint recipe – it’s easy and non-toxic but doesn’t taste good enough to keep your little ones coming back for more.  Let’s get artsy!

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • 1 cup flour
  • Boiling water (1-2 cups)
  • Cold water (1-2 cups)
  • Food coloring (gel or liquid)

Make The Paint

Place your flour into a large, heat-safe bowl.  Heat your water until boiling and then add enough of the boiling water to the flour to make the consistency of peanut butter.  Stir well to remove lumps.  Use cold water to thin out the paint until you reach your desired consistency.  If lumps remain, you can pour the paint through a strainer to remove them.  A few drops of food coloring, and voila! Safe paint for Little Pnuts to explore!

Let’s Create!

There are so many fun ways your Little Pnut can play with paint.  For large-scale fun, spread a big piece of butcher paper on a table top or sidewalk (use duct tape to secure the edges) and let your Little Pnuts go! To keep painting experiences fresh, provide different “tools” each  – traditional painting tools like brushes can be mixed with non-traditional items like toilet paper rolls, q-tips, spaghetti noodles, and cotton balls for experimenting.  Try providing interesting “canvases” like fabric, bubble wrap, or foil instead of paper.  Remember, try not to focus on the finished product as much as enjoying the painting process with your Little Pnut – let them make the decisions about how to paint their masterpieces and you will be fostering creativity, independence, and a lifetime love of art and learning!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Fine Motor Skill Development, Hand/Eye Coordination, Focus & Concentration, Creativity, Sensory Exploration, Language Development, Problem Solving

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Bloggerwww.two-daloo.com
 

 

 

 
 
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