Tag Archives: toddler activities

An Activity Bag a Day {while Mama’s away}

An Activity Bag a Day While Mama s Away | Mama Papa BubbaThis weekend, after nearly 3 years of rarely leaving my little lady for more than a couple of hours at a time, I spent a weekend away in Whistler with my best girlfriends from high school.  While I was a teensy bit anxious about it all, the fact that she was staying home with her Papa made it much easier than if it was the both of us going away at the same time. That being said, my mama tendencies made sure the house was in order and the fridge and cupboards were well-stocked before leaving.  I also knew I wanted to leave a little something special for Grae for each day I was away so that she knew I was thinking of her and would have something from her mama if she was missing me just a little bit.  Each of the bags contained a little note and all of the items needed to do a fun activity of some sort – something I knew Miss G would love and would be helpful if there were any ‘lulls’ throughout the weekend.

Here’s a peek at what was inside…

IMG 0209The day before I was leaving for my trip, Gracen came to me and said with big eyes, “I have an idea!”  She explained an elaborate ‘hockey station’ that would involve moving our living room carpet, sweeping underneath, making nets, and creating little hockey sticks.  When I saw this set of miniature sticks and balls, I knew they’d be a total hit. 

IMG 0211Knowing that Brad and Grae planned on visiting Science World, I left our membership card and a gift card that could be used for snacks during the visit in the Saturday bag.  The visit would have been enough, but since one of our favourite exhibits involves launching parachutes, I included a couple of inexpensive parachute guys to experiment with afterwards.

IMG 0213On days when Brad gets up with Grae and lets me sleep in, the two of them sometimes enjoy some morning television together (a rarity in our house).  I decided to go with a lazy Sunday theme and pack up the makings of a special movie morning – a couple of videos and some yummy treats (wild rice sticks and unsweetened dried mango for Miss G and popped chips for Brad).

IMG 0215Just in case, I also included a ‘bonus bag’ to be used if needed.  Inside were a few thick cardboard pieces, a box of sugar cubes, some white glue, and instructions to use the items to build sugar cube structures of any sort.

After a lovely weekend filled with reminiscing, 11:30 breakfasts, and quiet afternoons reading at the beach, I returned home to a quiet house.  It took all I had not to go into Gracen’s room and snuggle up with her as she napped, and when she did finally wake, after a whole lot of vibrating, leg kicking, hugging, and ‘I missed you’s’, the first thing she said was, “Mama, can we open my last bag together?!  I’ve been waiting for you to come home to do it!”  That right there told me that the activity bags had been a hit.

Together, we opened the final bag (the bonus one) and sat on a blanket underneath our plum tree building structures out of sugar cubes.  It was the perfect finish to my first weekend away.

♥ 

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Make Your Own Pizza Station

Over the course of the last week or so, the one thing Gracen can’t stop talking about is ‘when she gets bigger’.  So far, she’s told me she’s excited to get bigger so she can cross the road by herself, ‘work at a job’, walk in parking lots alone, drive a car, and go to university (Eesh…slow down, baby girl).  Part of me wants to curl up and cry, and the other part is incredibly proud that she desires such independence and self-sufficiency at 2.75 years old.

Making Your Own Pizza Lunch Station | Mama Papa BubbaWhile I’m not ready to hand over the car keys or let her navigate her way across a busy road just yet, I am ready {and more than happy} to let her put together some of her own meals. Given the proper set up, it’s something she’s totally capable of and she’s so, so, sooo proud after having done so.  A couple of days ago, she created her own breakfast banana split, and today she assembled her own quick and easy pizza lunch.

To make is super simple, we skipped pizza dough all together and used wholewheat Middle Eastern flatbreads instead.  These work perfectly, but wholewheat tortilla shells, pitas, and even bagels (cut in half of course) are great too.  Together, we cut up a bunch of stuff we had in the fridge (grilled chicken, red and yellow peppers, zucchini, and mango) and I set it all out, along with some grated fresh mozzarella and pesto, in a little pizza making station for my girl.

IMG 8347We’ve done this many times now, and what I’ve learned is that it’s best to let her create her pizza masterpiece directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet we’ll use to bake the pizzas.  After that, I kind of just let her go.  I’m a big fan of not directing our activities all that much (well except when it comes to safety, I guess), and really, it doesn’t matter which order the toppings go on in all that much.  The finished product will undoubtedly be delicious no matter what.  

IMG 8349That being said, we’ve made our favourite from scratch pizza together so many times in the past, she pretty much sticks to the sauce, cheese, toppings order.  And when this girl does toppings, she does toppings!

IMG 8351Here’s her mini pizza, ready for the oven.  I cook ours for about 5 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees, then crank up the temperature and broil them for just a minute at the end.

IMG 8354I can’t even explain how proud Miss G is after creating her meal on her own… She exudes pride.  And my personal opinion is that when kids take part in creating food, they are much more likely to eat it.

IMG 8355The verdict?  A total hit.  A pizza assembling station is always a hit in our house. 

♥ 

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iPhoneography // Gracen Types

Gracen TypesThough we aim for very little screen time in our house, this afternoon Grae asked me if she could spell some words on my computer.  Because there was so much potential learning involved, I just couldn’t say no.  She cozied up under the covers of our big bed, selected her font colours, and typed her name first.  Since she already knows how to spell ‘Gracen’, she did it on her own, even though hunting for each letter was {painfully} slow.  After completing her name, she asked to type other words.  She selected a new font colour each time, told me her word, and I spelled them aloud while she searched for the letters.  Needless to say, her newly found skills left her as proud as a peacock.

♥ 

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Wooden Spoon Puppet People

Wooden Spoon Puppet PeopleLast spring, I bought a multi-pack of wooden spoons in order to make a bird feeder similar to this one.  While we don’t buy bottled water (or any kind of individually bottled beverage for that matter), I thought a plastic bottle of some sort would eventually make its way into our recycling bin… Well, it hasn’t.  Not yet at least.  And while I could go digging through my neighbours’ bins on trash day, I decided we’d switch things up a little and finally put our wooden spoons to good use with this fun little project.

IMG 7737To get us started, I put out some coloured Sharpies, some felt strips, ribbon pieces, pieces of yarn, googly eyes, sequins, buttons, gems, some glitter glue, and some craft glue.

IMG 7741We started off by attaching some googly eyes to the back of our spoons with craft glue, and then I encouraged Gracen to add the other details as she pleased.

Wooden Spoon Puppet PeopleHere’s her first puppet person.

IMG 7747IMG 7753After creating a few girls, it was time to create a boy.  She asked me to cut out some ‘Papa hair’, a moustache, and tie for him, and then put him together, adding buttons down his front because ‘that’s how Papa’s shirts are for work’.

IMG 7756Here’s our completed wooden spoon puppet people family…  From left to right, Daddy, Dah-fat, Fadeen, and my personal favourite, Fafee Cacus. (Oh, the names things are given right now…)

Puppet talkLater on, once dry, Gracen disappeared into her room with the puppets and I found her acting out a playground scene and making the mommy and daddy puppets kiss. ☺

IMG 7769

♥ 

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Gracen Tested: Sparked Kids Discovery Kit

IMG 5277Last month, Gracen and I were lucky enough to receive a discovery kit from Sparked Kids Crafts.  If you haven’t heard of them before, Sparked Kids Crafts is a Vancouver Island-based subscription service that delivers educational art activities, science explorations, and imaginative play activities aimed at 3 to 7 year olds right to your doorstep.  Pretty cool, right?

IMG 5280Gracen was thrilled to receive a bright and beautiful package full of fun goodies and I was thrilled with how quickly it arrived and how professional the package looked.

IMG 5283Sparked discovery kits come with everything you need to complete several projects right there inside the box – markers, paper, pencils and instructions included!  Our kit was pirate-themed and came with four easy activities…  A folded paper pirate hat to make, a wooden treasure chest to decorate, a treasure map to create, and a popsicle stick parrot puppet to assemble.

IMG 5291Grae was super excited to get started and chose to make the paper pirate hat first (talk about taking me back to my childhood!)

IMG 5296Though the finished product wouldn’t quite stay on her head, for us, projects like these are all about the process.  We spent time together, we worked as a team, and we had fun together, and that’s what’s important.  If we wanted to, we could attach some sort of elastic easily enough and add the hat to her dress-up station for future imaginative play.

IMG 5299Next up, Gracen chose to decorate her treasure box.  At first she began adding splashes of colour here and there and then she requested that I draw some shapes for her to colour in.  She thought decorating a wooden box was a blast and I loved that Sparked had included high-quality crafting products for us to use.

IMG 5304While we haven’t had a chance to make our treasure map yet, there are already plenty of things I love about Sparked Kids Crafts…

1.  It’s a Canadian-based business (yay for supporting local!)

2.  It’s run by two moms, one a savvy mompreneur and the other a teacher (go moms!).

3.  The kits come with clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

4. The materials included are good quality.

5. The activities included are not at all intimidating, not even for those who claim they’re not crafty (I promise!)

6. A single discovery kit contains several activities, which if spaced out a little can easily keep you and your munchkin(s) creating all month long.

7. Each themed kit comes with it’s own enhancement activities and recommended reading list on the Discover More portion of the Sparked website.

Overall, I’d say that’s a lot of pluses for a fairly new small business, wouldn’t you?  In the interest of full honesty, the only thing I’d say is that I did find the activities in this particular kit to be a little… uninspired?  That sounds too harsh.  Perhaps ‘ordinary’ is a better word?  I’m not sure. Now, I’m not saying that the activities were not enjoyable, because they certainly were.  And truth be told, for the most part, kids don’t really care how unique or innovative an activity is, they’re just stoked that someone’s taking the time to sit down and create something with them.  I guess I just felt like the activities were mostly things that I could pull together on my own without too much planning, shopping, or prep work.  But then again, I’m an elementary school teacher, an owner of a handmade goods shop, and in general, someone who enjoys getting creative, so maybe that’s not a fair assessment. 

What I do think is that a Sparked Kids Craft subscription would be an amazing help to parents who are super busy, parents who don’t have the time/energy/inspiration to pull together crafts on their own, and parents who don’t consider themselves creative or crafty.  I also think a subscription would make an awesome gift, because truly, which child doesn’t love receiving mail?!

 

WIN A SPARKED DISCOVERY KIT OF YOUR OWN

Sparked Kids Crafts has generously offered to gift a discovery kit to one lucky Canadian Mama.Papa.Bubba. winner.  The contest is open until Friday, March 29th and there are multiple ways to win (please be sure to leave a separate comment for each).

To enter to win a complimentary Sparked Kids Crafts discovery kit:

–> Visit their website and tell us one thing you like about Sparked Kids Crafts

-> ‘Like’ Sparked Kids Crafts on Facebook and come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> Follow Sparked Kids Crafts on Twitter and come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment saying you did so (or previously did)

-> Follow Sparked Kids Crafts on Pinterest and come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment saying you did so (or previously did)

–> ‘Like’ Mama.Papa.Bubba. on Facebook, come back here and leave a separate comment saying you did so (or previously did)

 

Obviously the more times you enter, the better your chances of winning. ☺  Don’t forget to leave your email address!  The winner will be announced on March 30th and contacted via email.  Good luck!!

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Simple Mud Kitchen

Simple MUD KitchenAfter this morning’s mud soup fun down at the beach, I decided it would be fun to set up a little mud kitchen for Miss G to play with in the backyard.  Now I don’t know if you too have seen the beautiful and elaborate mud kitchens that often pass through my Pinterest feed, but ours was nothing like those.  A few items from the kitchen, some dirt from the garden, and a water source all squished onto a second hand plastic table and Miss G was pleased as punch.  After all, playing with mud is supposed to be simple, right? 

IMG 6430IMG 6432IMG 6444IMG 6438IMG 6463Gracen poured water, added greens, and gently stirred hot soup.  She scooped soil, packed it down, and added pebble sprinkles to dirt cupcakes. She tended to gooey mud pancakes, flipping them every now and again.

IMG 6443And lucky for me, I was the chosen taste tester.

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Balloons & Sharpies: A Creative Table

Balloons  SharpiesThis morning as Gracen was playing in her room (aka tearing everything off of every shelf and pulling everything out of every drawer) and I was doing a little bit of tidying, I decided to quickly load up her creative table with some new supplies.  We’ve had balloons floating all around the house since her half birthday balloon bath, so I grabbed a couple of soup bowls, placed a couple of balloons inside, and put out a little jar of my {coveted} colourful Sharpies.  

IMG 6083Without a word of exaggeration, upon coming into the room, Grae’s eyes lit up, she punched both fists into the air, and squealed “Yaaaay! New crafting stuff!”

IMG 6086She found it pretty hysterical that she was allowed to draw on balloons, and asked several times, “Mama, it’s okay to draw on dese balloons?”

IMG 6088Once she accepted that is was most certainly okay to draw on the balloons, she dove in.  Her favourite was ‘game’ she asked me to play with her…  I was to draw dots all over the balloon and she was going to colour over top of each.and.every. one.  

IMG 6091While the thought of balloons popping did cross my mind, day old {and there slightly squishy} balloons and well-used Sharpies = success.

So what do you do with balloons that have been drawn on?  Well, all of the things you do with a regular balloon I guess… Play keep it up, have a game of indoor volleyball, try kicking it really hard to see how far you can make it go – the usual.  Unless of course, you’ve drawn a face on it – then you can attach cardboard feet and have a little balloon person hang out around the house.  Like I think the majority of kids’ art should be, this is all about the process. ☺

See some of our other creative table ideas here.

♥ 

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Impromptu Drum Circle

Household Object Drum CircleToday as I was organizing the mess of mason jars in our hallway catchall closet, my curious Miss G spied some old wine gift tubes in the bottom.  Naturally, she yanked them out and began drumming on them.

IMG 5665Before long, we’d yanked out all kinds of pots, containers, and bowls out and created an impromptu drum circle for the budding musician in our family.

IMG 5669Maracas, rhythm sticks, wooden spoons, a xylophone, and background music were added in along the way too.

IMG 5667Perhaps not the most neighbour-friendly activity if you live in a small apartment or have basement tenants below you (ours weren’t home), but great fun for a rainy day.

Here’s our little musician jamming out…

♥ 

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Sticky Wall Colour Matching Game

Sticky Wall Colour Matching GameOne of the little activities I set up for Miss and her friends to enjoy at our Valentine’s tea was this sticky wall colour matching game.  The idea came from No Time for Flashcards (an amazing activity resource for kids of all ages) and although I followed Allison‘s instructions pretty closely, I made a couple of little changes along the way.  

IMG 5537Needed for the project was construction paper in rainbow colours, a heart-shaped paper punch, permanent markers in coordinating rainbow colours, and clear contact paper {which can be purchased at dollar stores and home hardware stores}.

IMG 5538First off, I punched out tons of hearts and mixed them up really well in order to make the activity more challenging.

IMG 5540Next, I rolled the contact paper out on the floor (paper backing side down) and drew rainbow-coloured hearts inside one another on the non-sticky side of the contact paper (using permanent markers for this part is key).

IMG 5570The following morning I peeled the paper off of the corners, and taped the sheet up to the wall before peeling the entire backing off.  As you can see, I attempted to make it look cute by taping it to the wall with my black and white polka dotted washi tape, but it simply didn’t cut it.  The ugly masking tape had to be brought out, but it worked perfectly.

When Miss G’s little friends came over, they began popping up the hearts all over the place {somewhat to Grae’s dismay}.  And though most of them didn’t get put in the ‘correct’ places, they had a lot of fun with it.  In fact, at one point I think we had 3 toddlers pressing their faces onto the sticky wall and slowly pulling them away before sticking them back on again. ☺

IMG 5576Of course, once everyone had gone, she got straight to fixing things.  The beauty about contact paper is that the paper hearts can easily be removed and reattached if need be.

IMG 5575Grae worked hard on her project for a good long while and it’ll stay up for the next while for her to revisit when desired, which I know will be often.

♥ 

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Mini Restaurateur

IMG 5371It’s no secret that Gracen loves to help in the kitchen.  So for a long time, we’d intended to buy her a play kitchen for Christmas.  But when going back to Kuwait became a serious consideration, we decided to put the kitchen plans on hold, buy one after the move, and opt for handmade felt food instead as it can easily be packed overseas.  

IMG 5367IMG 5377IMG 5372IMG 5366Unfortunately, we had a few snafus with our order and it only arrived a couple of weeks ago… Of course, for Miss G, who was spoiled at Christmas nonetheless and had no idea it was coming, opening the parcel today was the best surprise ever.

IMG 5370IMG 5384IMG 5376IMG 5382We laid out a blanket in the living room, grabbed a couple of stacks of plates, and she’s been whipping up meals ever since.

IMG 5373IMG 5383IMG 5374IMG 5379The funniest part is that every time we’re out and about and she spots a restaurant, she points to it and shouts, “Mama, a resdaraunt!  Grae Grae has one of dose at home in da living room.  Grae Grae has a resdaraunt station!!!”

IMG 5375IMG 5386IMG 5368It’s certainly no play kitchen, but our little sous chef doesn’t mind one bit.

♥ 

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