IMG_0560Whether at a parade, having fun in the back yard or watching the fireworks these ribbon wands are sure to provide your Little Pnut with loads of festive fun just in time for the 4th of July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • White foam board, cardboard or heavy card stock (we used white foam board from the dollar store)
  • Bbq skewer or other similar stick
  • Star shaped cookie cutter (optional)
  • Hot glue
  • Red, white & blue paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors/exacto knife
  • Red, white & blue ribbon
 

Get Ready

Either by way of using a star shaped cookie cutter or freehand, draw and cut two stars out of the white foam board. Note: If you are using foam board scissors will work but I found I got much cleaner edges when using an exacto knife. Once the stars are cut out have your Little Pnut paint one side of each star using red white and blue paint.

Assemble your Wand

When the paint is dry you are ready to make your wand. First, hot glue the skewer to the unpainted side of one of the stars (pointed side of the skewer facing in for safety). Then using more hot glue, cover the rest of the star and sandwich the two unpainted sides together. You will have to press down a bit or squeeze them together for a few seconds for the glue to dry and hold. Once the hot glue has dried and your wand is secure cut ribbon into various lengths and tie to your wand.

Play

Hand the wand over to your Little Pnut and watch what happens! Good chance they will be instantly captivated and may break out into parade themselves.

Variation

For some extra sparkle try covering the stars in glitter!

Happy Playing!

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts: Imaginative Play, Creative Play & Co-operative Play, Learning shapes,

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.

 
 

If you are a parent or caregiver looking for activities for young children, you’ve probably noticed that “sensory play” is all the rage on kid blogs and Pinterest. There are even entire websites devoted to sensory play for little ones, and while they are full of creative ideas, you may find yourself asking, “Does my child REALLY need sensory play for development?”

To answer this question, let’s look at what we know about sensory play.

 

 

WHAT IS SENSORY PLAY?

Sensory play is simply play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses.  Often called “messy play,” sensory play experiences focus on stimulating children’s senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, and movement.

Research tells us…

  • Young children rely on sensory input to learn about their environment.
  • Sensory play helps build neural connections that support thought, learning, and creativity.
  • Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine/gross motor skills, problem solving/reasoning, and social interaction.
  • Children’s exposure to sensory play opportunities is declining.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?

The first three points on the list above are pretty self-explanatory. In a nutshell, sensory experiences are like food for the brain…they provide valuable input that allows the brain to build new pathways that in turn support growth in crucial areas of development.

The fourth point, however, is what sheds some light on the answer to our original question, “Is all this REALLY necessary?”  You may be thinking, “My parents didn’t do sensory play with me, and I turned out ok!”  The fact is, our little ones spend much less time outdoors than their parents and certainly grandparents did as children.  Since the outdoors is naturally full of sensory play opportunities, this has definitely had a part in the decline of sensory play.  Secondly, although children can definitely fulfill their need for sensory play indoors when given periods of unstructured playtime with stimulating materials, the truth is that indoor time is often monopolized by television, battery operated toys, or toddler/preschool programs that focus on drilling academics rather than fostering important play skills.  This has resulted in a generation of children who may not even know how to play when given the opportunity…how sad is that?

So in short, the answer to your question is yes, sensory play is crucial for your child’s development. And since children today are no longer given ample opportunities for naturally occurring sensory play, it is up to us as parents to be sure their needs are met.

BUT WAIT!!  

Before you rush out and buy the materials to recreate every zany sensory activity you ever pinned on Pinterest, here are some much less time-intensive activities that you can do to enrich your child’s “sensory diet” without losing your sanity as well.

  • Play with sand, mud, water, shaving cream, cornmeal, water beads, dried or cooked pasta, dried beans or lentils, etc.  Provide a variety of containers, kitchen tools, and small toys for your child to explore with.
  • Sing and dance to music.  Use child-sized instruments, scarves, ribbon wands, etc. to encourage participation and engage multiple senses.
  • Build with blocks, empty cardboard boxes, or canned goods.  Knock down your towers and talk about the loud noises.
  • Add essential oils or extracts to play dough and compare all the different scents as you play.
  • Pick out a variety of fruits and vegetables at your local market (try to choose some that are new to your child).  Have a “sensory picnic” where you encourage your child to touch, smell, taste, and play with all the different produce.
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood or in a wooded park.  Let your child stop and pick up leaves, sticks, rocks, or whatever else interests him/her.  If you want, bring a bag to fill with your “treasures” to bring home and make a collage with, or just simply to show to another family member.

MORE GREAT STUFF JUST FOR YOU:

To learn how to use fun sensory play activities to help get your toddler talking, check out Building Language with Sensory Play. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/sensory-play-and-language/)

For an entire gallery of  sensory play ideas, click HERE. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/category/play/sensory-play-little-minds-tot-school/)

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

 

Looking for an activity to celebrate Fall with your Little Pnuts? How about a pumpkin hunt? This is a super easy and inexpensive activity that has lots of potential for fun and playful learning!

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A bag of miniature pumpkins and gourds, preferably in a variety of shapes and colors (often sold in the produce section of your grocery store during the season)
  • Somewhere to hide them – we used a nearby playground, but even your backyard would work!
  • A bag for each Little Pnut to collect his/her pumpkins

 

Let’s Begin

To set up, simply hide the pumpkins and gourds around the designated area while your Little Pnuts are engaged elsewhere.

 

Let’s Play

When the pumpkins are all hidden, give each child a bag and have them collect the pumpkins.  Once they’ve all been collected, bring them all together to investigate and compare.  Talk about the different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures of the pumpkins and gourds.  Help your child sort the pumpkins by various attributes (bumpy and smooth, round/not round, etc.). Slightly older Little Pnuts may enjoy a turn hiding the pumpkins for the adults to find! You can also work on expressive language by having the children give you verbal directions to help you find the hidden pumpkins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Problem Solving, Reasoning, Fine/Gross Motor Development, Receptive/Expressive Language, Sensory Development

 

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

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.
 
 
 

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.

 

 

It’s that time of year–Autumn. The leaves turn, pumpkins are harvested and coziness settles in. It’s our favorite time of year. A time of year that invites outside play, beautiful sunsets and family interaction. Here is a fun outdoor activity for Little Pnuts of all ages that envelopes the Fall harvest. Perfect for a pumpkin playdate or a Halloween party–why not play a game of Pumpkin Patch Leap Frog?

  
 
 
 

What You Will Need:

  • Eight medium-sized pumpkins test them out to see if your Little Pnut can jump over them easily
  • Two short pieces of rope these will be used to mark your start and finish line
  • A timer to be used to see which Little Pnut gets through the pumpkin patch the fastest

 

How to Play:

Find an open area and create your pumpkin patch obstacle course, either by placing your pumpkins haphazardly or in a straight line about 3 feet apart.

Using the pieces of rope, mark a starting point and ending point on both ends of the line.

Have your Little Pnuts line up, taking turns, have each Little Pnut leap over each pumpkin one at a time all the way to the finish line.

Using a timer, time each Little Pnut to see how fast it takes them to leap from start to finish.

 

End of Game:

The Little Pnut with the fastest time leaping through the pumpkin patch, without tipping over a pumpkin, wins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Gross Motor Skill Development, Coordination, Balance, Focus & Concentration, Logical Reasoning, Understanding of Winning & Losing, Competition, and Social Interaction.

 

—Based on a game found in “Kids’ Garden, 40 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Games”, by Whitney Cohen
 

 

 

 

A fun indoor or outdoor activity for Little Pnuts of all ages.  This is a game that  allows you to be a pirate and a detective all at the same time. Your Little Pnuts will have a blast “scavenging” for the treasures you’ve hidden to and fro! 

 
 
 
 
 

*We recommend that the teams have Preschoolers who are learning to read for this variation of the game.

 

What You Will Need:

  • Small, Silly, Fun Items that you can hide in various locations either in the house, outdoors, or even both.
  • Pre-made lists with all the items to be found. This will be handed out to each team to gather. To help with new readers include a picture next to each word to help with word association and to ensure they will be able to find the items they are looking for.
  • A timer depending on the age of your teams set the timer to what you feel is an appropriate amount of time to find the items on the lists.
  • Prizes 2 types, some for the winning team and some for the losing team. Make sure there are enough for everyone.

 

How to Play:

Hide all the items in locations where each team will search to find them. Place the same number of items as there are teams in each location. When a team finds an item, they are only permitted to take one item.

Set a timer for the amount of time in which each team must find all of the items listed on their list.

On your marks, get set…GO!

Each team is off to find the items as listed on their sheets. Send them off in different directions so that they are all looking in a variety of locations. Remind them to keep each location where they found an item a secret, making it difficult for the other teams to find out where they might have found the items on the list.

 

End of Game:

The first team to find all the items on the list within the allotted timeframe wins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Gross Motor Skill Development, Coordination, Reading Skills, Word Association, Focus & Concentration, Logical Reasoning, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Teamwork, Understanding of Winning & Losing, Competition, and Social Interaction.

 

—Based on a game found in the book. “You’re It!”, by Katie Hewitt
 

 

These are the truly fun times, the moments in which your Little Pnut will begin to keep you on your toes and biting your nails. Into everything, toddling to and fro’ and exploring new heights your Little Pnut is bringing back the fun into your life. Sleeping through the night now he also has more energy to play and so do you.

Your Little Pnut is beginning to focus on the development of his gross motor skills, walking, running, dancing, throwing, he might even begin to kick a ball back and forth. So many things to try out and explore. His world and surrounding environment are all so close now for him to begin experimenting with.

Music now  becomes a very integral part of his life. You’ll notice that your Little Pnut will start to bang spoons on surfaces, clap toys together and start grooving to your favorite tunes. Your Little Pnut will giggle with glee as you sing along and dance with him, such a great way to expand his love for music and appreciate close, fun times with his Mama & Papa. Make it a game and play fun sing-along music with repetitive phrases that will also encourage his growing vocabulary.

So many opportunities to have fun with one another and to explore the world together, the Toddler years are truly some of the most memorable times in both of your lives. Make them fun and make them play filled.