Saturday Simple Playtime: Preschooler Games

Face it. 4-year-olds aren’t ready to play a hand of hearts or Michigan rummy. Still, there are a lot of games out there, designed for the preschool set, that can provide many benefits. When you play a game with your little one, you are helping them to develop their language skills, improve visual reasoning, learn turn-taking, and even improve their imagination! We use a number of games when we do speech therapy and occupational therapy activities at home and on the boat.

First, let me share some of my favorite games to play with the Bean.

Hungry Hippos is a classic! The game play is simple. Children learn to follow steps in sequence: line up the marbles, release them one by own, make the hippos “eat” them, then line them back up. We also practice making our hippos go “faster” and “slower.”

Memory is another great game. At first, the Bean just liked looking at the cards and naming what was in the picture. Now, she likes to flip the cards over, see where everything is, then flip them back upside-down and match them.

Lucky Ducks is a game that involves memory and shape matching. When we’re done, the Bean likes to act out scenes with the ducks.

Cariboo Island is another memory game, that involves unlocking doors with a key, to find balls that are hidden throughout the board. This uses a great deal of fine motor skills, and it is a favorite during OT sessions!

Barnyard Bingo is the Bean’s absolute favorite game to play during speech therapy. It’s a matching game that also can help build vocabulary. The Bean has gotten much better at following multiple-step directions, thanks to games like this.

Here are some suggestions to help game time with your preschooler go smoothly:

1. Start out with just the two of you playing. Other kids will lead to disputes over rules, so it is best for your child to get used to playing first.

2. Don’t worry if they don’t follow the rules exactly. Let your child explore the game first!

3. Try playing one-player, with you helping your preschooler.

4. The goal isn’t to win, especially at this age. The Bean gets excited when she completes the task!

Happy gaming!

Sunday Supper: Alphabet Sandwiches

One of the perks of having a child in Head Start are the inexpensive, healthy recipes that come home in her bag. Most of these are Nubites from Nutrition Matters, Inc. I have yet to try one that hasn’t been absolutely delicious. Of course, I do end up modifying many of them to include more home made ingredients, eliminate white flour, and eliminate sugar (although the recipes are very low in white flour and sugar). This is a fun recipe that kids can help you make!

1. Start with whole wheat bread, or my basic pancakes.

2. Cut the bread or pancakes into the shapes of letters. Sometimes, Beanie likes to do numbers too. I have her tell me the letter or number, then I do the cutting.

3. Cover the letters with cheese slices. Any cheese will work, but I really like colby.

4. Cover with any pizza toppings you have on hand: onions, peppers, olives, etc.

5. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts.

6. Enjoy eating the alphabet!

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween.

It’s probably the least stressful of all holidays. There are no large gatherings, no meals to prepare, no presents to buy. It’s just about having fun and about kids being kids.

This year, Beanie’s grandma made her a butterfly costume. Isn’t it adorable?

The Bean had her first pumpkin-carving experience as well. First, she drew a face on the pumpkin. Then, Daddy cut the top off and we cleaned out the guts…

Then Daddy carved on Beanie’s lines. Her pumpkin is the one on the right.

I hope everyone has a safe, fun holiday!

Fish in a Jar

The beginning of the school year is crazy. All of a sudden, my household chores are compounded by work-related tasks, such as modifying assignments, grading papers, and writing IEP’s. Rob is at home, entertaining a Bean whose routine has just changed. Evenings are spend catching up with each other, catching up on housework, trying to follow Beanie’s routine, and doing homework assignments with the Bean.

Yesterday, at lunch time, I called Rob to check up on things at the homefront. This is how his morning went…

He was upstairs, cleaning, while the Bean played in the living room with her kitten (who has just come back from my parents’ house, where she spent her summer). Rob heard a loud “thud,” followed by “uh-oh!” He ran down the stairs and saw that the kitchen floor was now covered in blue gravel. Water collected in the low spots on the floor, and dripped through the floor boards, into the basement. The small, plastic aquarium sat, broken, next to the snack bar. Our poor fish flopped helplessly in the middle of it all. The kitty had knocked over the aquarium.

Like a super hero, Rob tried to scoop up the fish. Apparently, this is not so easy to do. He ended up grabbing the fish by the tail and depositing him into a mason jar he had filled with water.

Good and hardy, the fish survived in the untreated, warm water. He’ll stay in his new home, until we buy him a new, heavier, tank this weekend.

While Rob was saving the day, Beanie got back to work on her art project, gluing dried beans to her name. She decided that Elmer’s glue would make an excellent hair styling product and applied it accordingly.

10 minutes later, the bus arrived.

Saturday Simple Playtime: Some of My Favorite Books

Hello! Much of Beanie’s playtime is spent looking at books, and story time is a favorite time of her day. This week, I’m going to give my top 10 favorite toddler books!

10. Prince Cinders by Babette Cole

Babette Cole is awesome. I pretty much love anything by her (although you do have to be careful if you shop for her books on Amazon, because she did do some books on puberty for tweens…). This book is a feminist Cinderella, featuring a prince as the main character. His fairy godmother allows him to become big and hairy–watch out!

9. The Fat Cat by Jack Kent

It’s annoying. It’s repetitive. But it features Skothottentot. I loved this book when I was a kid, and I could still recite it.

8. I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

It’s beautiful. It’s a tear jerker. His mom drives a Volvo… I do have to admit that I haven’t been able to read this to Beanie since Rob’s mother died. But it is a jem, that’s for sure.

7. Your Kind of Mommy by Marjorie Blain Parker

Beanie loves animals, and she loves books about parents loving their children. This book is one of her favorites!

6. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

As many of you mommies know, it’s hard not to just list 10 Sandra Boynton books here. Maybe I will have to do a blog post about her later! Her books are sweet, often about regular kid routines and relationships, and have fun, whimsical rhyme. This book is about going to bed, but the routine occurs on a boat! Perfect for my little live-aboard kid.

5. The Trouble With Dad by Babette Cole

Another Babette Cole book. This one is just a bit funnier than the previous one, and it has lots of subtle humor (often involving the pictures) for the parents.

4. Jesus Loves Me by Tim Warnes

Introducing little ones to Christianity is difficult, and I think the best model for the ultimate love of God is the love between parents and children (I’m sure I will post much more on this later–I do have a story…). But, that love is as close as you can get to agape, or unconditional love, in this world. And this book shows that relationship very well. It’s one of the Bean’s favorites.

3, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

All right, I sought out this book. And I was not disappointed. The princess lost all her material possessions, outsmarted the dragon, then decided that she needed a prince like a fish needs a bicycle. The feminist in me is rejoicing.

2. Go Dog Go by PB Eastman

All right, when I read this to the kids I was baby-sitting, I thought it was just another easy reader. Then, I caught the “Do you like my hat?” subplot. I laughed, then had to tell Rob about it! And the book is repetitive, so Beanie will “read” it on her own.

1, Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

Yes, a Boynton book has the number 1 spot for us. It has animals, and a mother who is absolutely in love with her child. It is so catchy, so silly, and has long been a favorite. We’ve worn out 2 Snuggle Puppy books so far!

I have to say that it has been hard to choose only 10 children’s books to recommend. I will definitely be doing another post, with my next 10. There are some wonderful books out there!

Musical Carousel

Every Monday during the school year, the Bean and I have a mother-daughter date. We eat a quick dinner, then head off to Musical Carousel. This is a toddler/preschooler music class, and it is the high point of Beanie’s week. Her teacher holds it in a studio behind her house, and they do sensory activities, crafts, and stories. And, of course, they sing, dance, play instruments, and do musical pitch activities. It’s a structured class, but the kids are welcome to dance or enjoy the music in any way they see fit. It’s helped the Bean’s talking as much as her therapy, and she practices the songs during the week. Tonight she wow’d everyone by singing “Hello Everybody” and saying the alphabet!

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a toddler music class, I highly recommend it!