Friday, October 9, 2009

Theraputty Cake

Does your toddler like Play-Doh? Mr. M is not particularly fond of it. Sure, he plays with the Play Doh Factory and uses some other tools. But he prefers not to touch Play Doh itself.

I'm not sure why it is. Maybe it's because Play Doh is a bit oily to touch. Or maybe it's too playable and provides too little resistance and feedback for him. Whatever it is, he's not alone. Many low muscle tone kids and kids with sensory issues don't engage with Play Doh.

Our wonderful occupational therapist, Michelle, showed us Theraputty the other day. And frankly, we're both hooked. It is pretty addictive even for adults. It leaves no sticky or oily residue. It makes funky snapping sounds when kneaded. And, if you leave a blob of Theraputty in a large enough container (or on a table top), it will transfrom itself into a thin shiny disk. How cool is that!

So I quickly ordered 4 oz of red (medium-soft) Thera-Flex Theraputty from Amazon. And when it arrived, I hid a bunch of very small beads in it. Mr. M loves digging through his putty searching for beads. And once we get enough of them dug out, I shape the putty into a cake and he "decorates" it with the beads.
I might order some yellow (soft) putty as well to create a two-tier cake. Plus Mr. M might like to shape it since it's a bit softer than the red one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Simple Game of Stickers

I really like Kumon workbooks, I do. But here's the problem that I have with them - my toddler goes through each page in about 10 seconds (5 seconds if it's a maze). So we can go through all the age-appropriate worksheets in one book even before breakfast.

So here's a simple fine-motor skills idea that I tried a couple of days ago. All it takes is a stack of printer paper (or any other paper) and a bunch of stickers (dollar-store ones or leftovers from scrapbooking will do just fine). Turns out it's even better than Kumon since

  • It can be customized to fit your child's interests (Mr. M is a budding musician so I found some guitar stickers)
  • A child can pick the stickers off the sheet and position them on the piece of drawing paper - that's more fine motor practice
  • In addition to mazes, you can play "circle" and "connect" games. Connecting games in particular are great learning activities since you can practice matching sizes, shapes, colors, etc.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How to Get Your Toddler to Eat Veggies

Ok, I don't know how to get YOUR toddler or even a toddler to eat veggies. But I finally figured out how to get MY toddler to do it.

Not like I ever dreamed about my little one asking for seconds of steamed spinach... But when his range of culinary interests shifted towards the bread-cookies-pasta-cake spectrum and the only veggie I was able to get him to eat was ketchup, I started getting a bit worried.

Sure, Mr. M would peck at some green peas and corn, but concentrate most of his table-side attention on hot dogs and pancakes. What was I supposed to do?!

Well, today I felt particularly inspired. I made sure that he had some sure-hits on his plate - a hot dog, pasta with cheese and of course, ketchup. But then I added something new - a side of steamed edamame. At first Mr. M wanted nothing to do with it (green = yuk, I suppose).

But then I suggested he'd invite his two pals - scarecrows - to the table for lunch. (Ever since we built our little pre-season scarecrow Mr. M is "into" them). Anyway, he loved the idea and proceeded to share the edamames and the hot dog (hey, great lesson in sharing). And then he pretty much cleaned up his plate.

Tomorrow I'm going to try some mashed potatoes and, if all goes well, we might get as far as steamed spinach by this weekend. I'm sure this fascination with scarecrows won't last, so I'm just trying to make the most of it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

3 Little Pumpkins

Lately we've been seriously into everything pumpkin. I'm not sure how it all started, but Mr. M is totally responsible for this year's pumpkin madness. We already have quite a few Halloween and pumpkin-themed books. And we go to the farmers market a couple of days a week just so Mr. M can run around every single pumpkin patch there is.

Then a couple of days ago we tried to make some old-fashioned pumpkin pie baked right inside a big pumpkin. Well, believe me when I tell you - never follow recepies from children's books. This goes into our FUN, but BAD IDEA file, right next to kiwi-fruit muffins.

Anyway, the pumpkin pie didn't happen. Instead, we ended up with about 5 pounds of very sweet pumpkin "gobly-goop". Turns out, it wasn't a big loss after all since Chris was able to turn it into some delicious pumpkin bread and pumpkin pancakes.

But for all this pumpkin love, we just finally found time to go to a real pumpkin patch, the one where pumpkins do all their growing. More specifically, we went to the Smith's Nursery in Benson. We already went there a bunch of times this year to pick strawberries and blueberries. Now it was time for a different kind of berries (yes, pumpkins are berries - something we recently learned from one of our more educational Halloween books).

Since it was Friday early afternoon, we were the only pumpkin pickers there for a while. Essentially we had the entire farm all to ourselves! Now, that was pretty awesome.

As we walked to the patch, we passed by the millet maze - tempting, but we left it for another time (and we'll bring friends too). Then we saw some goats and a donkey who looked eager to be petted. And then there was the big huge pumpkin patch!

Hooray! Mr. M took off running. Then, of course, he got tangled up in pumpkins and fell. But he was ok and laughing, saying something about pumpkins catching him. At first we planned on letting him choose a pumpkin. But he just kept walking all around the patch, chatting about all the big and little pumpkins... So Chris ended up choosing for him.

Then we were off to explore the little creek right next to the patch. And then it was time to eat (picnic is another idea Mr. M goes ga-ga about at the moment). So we walked back to the fish pond and ate our little turkey-apple-saurkraut sandwiches until they were all gone (just a couple of minutes, really).
The picnic table was right next to a little play area for kids so of course it had to be next on our list of things to do at the farm. Even mom, dad and a little lizard buddy got to play on the set.