Instant Infant Fun!

       Different Ways to Engage Your Infant

Congratulations! By the ripe old age of three months, your baby is no longer a newborn. Your little one can now turn his head when he hears your voice, waves his hands, and kicks his feet when he feels excited. He has mastered the much-awaited grins, gurgles, and giggles. Not to mention the infamous cry to express joy or pain. Good bye passive newborn, hello active infant!

IMG_1524

Your buddy is now stronger, more active, and can use his body to reach, pull, and manipulate the world around him. How amazing it is to see all the creative ways they explore! These activities aren’t just a source of entertainment for our little one they are all learning experiences through which life skills are developed along with his sense of self. This is the time to usher in the new era of exploration! Sing songs with hand movements. Give him toys that shake, rattle, and roll. Get him to scream in laughter with high flying rides and tickle games that require the use of his whole body.

The reward of exploring with your baby and his body is the wonder of interaction. Seeing him enjoy it will bring a huge smile to your face, too. Bonds of love and trust are formed through early interaction and play. Spontaneity can make these interactions even more fun and rewarding, so find an opportunity at every turn! You can play peek-a-boo games during diaper change, tuck your baby in a sling while you vacuum the floor, throw in a little dance or two while you do the dishes while he watches you, and burst into song or whistle while you work can help turn a fussy infant into a giggly one.

Remember to build a relationship with your child by engaging in intimate activities that will help him master certain skills but also create a lasting and joyful bond. Here are 5 fun ways to keep our little ones—including ourselves—entertained! Who doesn’t love to see their baby smile back at them? 🙂

IMG_22181. This Coo is For You!

From 3-6 months, your baby is often a social being full of the cutest coos and irresistible smiles. Although he can’t say real words yet, the adorable sounds he utters are his way of exploring the world of communication. He learns from the responses you give to these vocalizations. To help boost language by understanding what he hears and saying his own words, keep talking (and talking and talking) to your little one. Speak slowly, clearly, and simply. By responding to your baby, you are showing him that you value what he has to say and will encourage him to communicate even more. A squeal or squirm is a great way to see that he realizes you are following his body movements and are interested in what he has to say.

Keep your baby interested by repeating his own sounds back to him. When he says “ga-ga-ga,” respond excitedly with your own “ga-ga-ga.” He’ll love the attention but will also get in the habit of imitating your real words too. By encouraging your baby to mimic, you will inspire him to try even more complex word patterns which eventually will result in his attempt to say words and phrases. Titus loves being talked to. He responds with his ear-to-ear grin and starts cooing back. It never fails to make us smile. (This a great way to get your older child involved too. T loves it when M talks and sings to him.)

cooing with grandpa!

Grandpa and Titus enjoying a fun conversation! 

2. Mirror Mirror in Front of Me, Who is that Cutie that I see?

Watching his own face and interacting with his own image in the mirror increases your baby’s budding awareness of himself as a separate person. This is very amusing to him. You gotta admit, I bet you can name some adults who can look at themselves for a pretty long time! Here’s what you can do.
a) Prop a mirror against a wall, (I usually use the coffee table) and lay your baby on his tummy (instant tummy time!)
b) Point to the baby in the mirror and introduce him to himself. You can name the parts of his face as you point and touch each part. The mirror helps your learn to track, focus and explore.

IMG_1040

It promotes upper body strength and visual stimulation. Follow his lead, he can quit if he has had enough but don’t be afraid to challenge him by going a little longer each time. Our little Titus used to dislike tummy time. We would put him in his tummy and he would fuss and fret for a while, when he realizes help isn’t on the way, he plops his head and goes to sleep! It happened every time! 

He tends to do this...haha

So I checked out Target but they ran out of mirrors and when I finally found one (I bought two because extra is always good!) Titus realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to be on his belly! By the way, I got those mirrors for five bucks only! Tummy time got longer and longer and now, he has finally learned to love it. 🙂

IMG_1127

I SEE ME!

3. Movement Motivation: Just a little out of reach

This encourages your baby to make early efforts to grab things and move his body towards something or someone he wants like a ball, a colorful toy or you! Creeping forward, rolling over, or just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g as far as he can go will help him develop those little muscles. Be careful not to tease him. Make sure to build success into the activity. If you see him getting frustrated, move it a little closer or give him a break, sing a song or two then try again.

              IMG_2330IMG_2332IMG_2343IMG_2337

 

These were taken when he was about 2.5 months. 

        IMG_4032IMG_4022IMG_4037IMG_4020
 
These were taken when he was about 4.5 months. He got the concept pretty quick! He even pulls   on the blanket so Sophie gets closer. Good problem solving skills there bud! 

4. Bathtub Ballet

Make bath time fun and exciting is a great way to encourage motor skills. Sitting and splashing in the bathtub is a thrill for both my boys. With the tub filled with lukewarm water and your baby seated on a non-slip mat, encourage your little one to kick and splash and play! When he starts kicking, you can start chanting, “Kick, kick, kick!” This will encourage him to continue kicking. Kicking helps strengthen his leg and abdominal muscles which is important for crawling and then eventually walking. This activity also helps develop his confidence in water which helps when he starts swim lessons.  Titus absolutely loves this! He can stay and kick in the tub for a really long time.  

5. Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut

Kicking feet and waving hands are generally the signs that your baby is beginning to understand that he can somewhat control the movements in his body. Reinforce this by drawing attention to the major body parts for him. Place him on a bed or changing table or the floor then touch his face and say “face.” Hold his hands and make him feel your face, too. Repeat with each body part and make him feel both his own and yours. This provides tactile stimulation and helps him become aware of his body parameters. The song Tony Chestnut is a fun one to sing while pointing to each body part. Tony Chestnut knows I love you. (Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut, Nose, eye love you!) I didn’t get it the first time but now I’ve discovered what a fun song it is! Accompanying these exercises with playful interactions help build a close relationship between you and your child and sows the seeds for a healthy self-esteem, too.

IMG_1393

Micah loves doing this with Titus.

IMG_1390

Micah likes blowing on his tummy while singing songs with him.

IMG_4370 Fun moments with daddy!

Your newborn has surpassed the eat-sleep-poop routine and is now a responsive infant. Take advantage of this stage by keeping your little one engaged with these fun and simple activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast, too! 🙂 

titus

Advertisements

The Sorry Story

I came home one Saturday from brunch with one of my girlfriends and I found my husband watching TV on the couch with my newborn. I greeted him with a smile and asked him how the morning went with the boys. I asked him where Micah was and he said he was napping already. I looked at the clock and realized he put him to sleep a little earlier than usual. I also noticed that my husband had a frustrated look on his face. He told me that he put him down early because Micah didn’t want to eat and was throwing a fit about it.

Our little boy is typically a good eater and has no problems finishing his meals on his own. I was surprised because he was served peanut butter and jelly, which was a huge treat for him, yet he barely ate a bite. I could see that Chris was clearly frustrated about the situation. After an hour or so, Micah woke up crying. I went to his bedroom to check on him and found out that he had thrown up. He looked weak and sick. He called out to mommy for comfort. My heart sank when I saw him looking helpless and miserable. His eyes were watery and he did not look well. He said, “Look…I’m sorry, Mama.” while pointing down at the yucky stuff on his bed). I said, “It’s okay honey. Mama will clean you up and take care of this.”

I quickly cleaned him up and brought him to Chris so I can change his sheets and throw them in the wash. When Micah saw his dad, he knew Papa was still upset. He said, “Sorry papa, no eat lunch.” Chris said, “Yes, Micah did not eat lunch. Not okay, Micah. You can have it for snack.” in a stern voice. I looked at my husband and signalled him to drop the issue. I knew Micah didn’t eat not because he was trying to be disobedient but because he wasn’t feeling well. However, Chris didn’t acknowledge this.

I prayed about how I could break it to my husband lovingly that he was wrong about how he spoke to Micah. I knew in my heart that he was aware of it but needed a kind reminder of the truth. God prompted me to speak to him privately as Micah played in the other room. I reminded him of the verse, “Fathers do not exasperate your children” from Ephesians 6:4. I told him I knew that he just wanted Micah to eat his lunch and obey Daddy. His intentions were right but his delivery was wrong. Praise God my husband was sensitive to the Spirit and acknowledged his fault. He knew he had to apologize to his 22-month-old son. He called Micah, put him on his lap and said “Micah, Papa is sorry for getting mad at you during lunch today. Please forgive Papa.” Micah said, “Okay papa” and gave him a hug. Chris wondered if Micah actually got the point because that was all he said and it was over. I reassured him that even if we couldn’t really tell if Micah understood it, there will be a benefit to his act of humility. If we want to teach our boys to be humble and admit if they are wrong, we need to model it ourselves and this includes apologizing to them, too.

A few days later, Micah got really frustrated and started hitting Chris in the face. Chris quickly looked Micah in the eyes and told him, “Micah, you need to stop. This is not okay. You are hurting Papa.” Micah immediately stopped but we could tell he was still pretty upset. Chris asked him to calm down and apologize but Micah was hesitant. He didn’t want to say sorry initially but eventually he did. As they talked about the situation, Micah admitted that he was sorry he hit his papa. He knew what he did was wrong. His dad hugged him and told him that he still loves him but does not approve of his actions.

As I prayed with Micah before bed that night, he mentioned all the people he was thankful for. I prayed for him but right before we said amen, he said, “Mama, I sorry I hit Papa. Micah sorry Jesus.” My heart melted. I knew God was working in his little precious heart. I told him that daddy forgave him but that Jesus did too.

This incident made me realize that our boys are watching our every move and if we want to teach them humility and forgiveness, we need to model these ourselves. We want them to know that no matter what they do, we will always love and forgive them. As much as they are accountable to us and to the Lord, we are also accountable to God for how we are raising our children. It is our hearts’ desire to raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, we need to walk the talk and practice what we preach. We pray that we will live out God’s desire for our children. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We believe that every parent should live by this truth if we want our children to grow up in a way that honors God. ☺

Father & Son moment: praying and studying God’s word together.

I am so blessed to raise my boys along side a man who loves and fears the Lord. What a great privilege it is to watch him model God’s character to them everyday. He is not perfect but seeing him grow in faithfulness, wisdom and godliness makes me feel so proud to call him the father of my children.

IMG_0302

Happy Father’s Day to my dear husband and also to all the fathers out there. May your children see the love of Christ through you everyday.

img_0050

Toddler Tasks: These little hands can do big things!

When you live a busy life, sometimes it’s easier to do things yourself. You get things done quicker and just the way you want it. Juggling between nursing and caring for a newborn and running around after a toddler, it’s easier for me to finish the chores, put away the dishes, fold the clothes and clean up the toys while the kids are napping instead of waiting for my 22 month old to wake up and help me. But by doing everything myself, what am I teaching him?
What if I actually waited for him to do it? It shows him that mommy trusts him to do big tasks. That she believes that I can do it by myself and that I am able! Oftentimes, I’m tempted to put away the dishes from the dishwasher so when my son wakes up, we can read a book or play or do something else. But I am reminded that doing so would deprive him of learning the valuable lessons of taking responsibility, caring for the household and allowing him to build confidence in his abilities. This encourages independence and allows us to share the joy of seeing him accomplish various tasks with big thank you’s, double high fives and big bear hugs – making us both feel like a million bucks! There are lots of ways your toddler can help you. It may take extra time in the beginning especially when you initially teach him, but when he/she gets it, it’s all worth it!

Here are some suggestions:
Bedroom:
Show your toddler how to:
1. Fold his own blanket or fix his bed after he wakes up in the morning or at nap time.

2. Put his dirty clothes in the hamper.

3. Pick out his own clothes and even put them on (shoes included).
Micah has a pair of “home shoes” that he can practice putting on around the house so when we need him to put on his “outside shoes”, he can do so quickly.

IMG_4713
5. Put away the folded clothes in the drawers or closet.
Warning: your perfectly folded clothes may not be so perfect once your little one carries them to the drawer and shoves it in.
*Micah told me after I folded his clothes, “Mama, Micah help.” I said “OK!” But before I could help him carry them to his room, he picked up the pile and brought it to his room. He placed them (it felt more like dropped them) on the floor, opened the drawer and put them in. By the time I got to the room, he said, “Mama all done” with a huge smile of his face; he proudly moved out of the way to show me the clothes in the drawer. I had to remind myself to say thank you and acknowledge the helpful spirit of my little boy instead of the sleeves that were hanging out and the shirts that were unfolded. He did put them away in the correct drawers and I had to applaud him for helping. I wanted to rearrange it so they would look neat, but I knew it would break his confidence. I had to let it go because the bottom line is my 20 month old helped me with the laundry. On the bright side, it was one person’s clothes I didn’t have to put away. 🙂

Bathroom:
1. Ask him to remove his clothes, socks and get ready to shower.

2. Get his towel.

3. Wash himself with soap and put shampoo on his head.
*TIP: Put some shampoo in a smaller container (put those hotel shampoo containers you take home to use!) so if it spills, you won’t waste a lot. Give him a small bar of soap so he can hold it in his hands. Micah loves holding the shower head and washing himself when he takes a shower.

4. Clean up wet spots on the floor.

5. If you are potty training, ask him/her to dump out the pee in the toilet. Remember to remind him/her to wash his/her hands after!

IMG_7358Living Room/ Study or Play Area:

1. Pick up and put away his books and toys after he uses them.
IMG_7932
2. Straighten up the pillows or rugs.

Kitchen:
1. Assist you in food preparations.
a. Rinse fruits or vegetables (while you do this, talk to him about the colors, names and importance of each one).

b. Slice bananas if he wants to have it for snack or dessert.
Show him how to hold the knife properly with the blade side down and away from him.IMG_7336
c. Bake with him!
Show him how to mash bananas, or crush crackers to make them crumbs. I had pre-measured the ingredients and placed them in different colored bowls and had him put them into the mixing bowl. Mixing is so much fun!

IMG_7397

4. Show them how to scoop and drop!
Micah loved it! He got upset at me when I took the tray away to bake it in the oven because he wanted to keep doing it! He was pretty mad -while I thought it was pretty funny. I told him I had to bake it or we couldn’t eat it.

IMG_7398

5. Breakfast anyone? Slice the bread and spread the jelly! Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

IMG_7554

6. Empty out the plates and bowls from the dishwasher and sort out the utensils.
REMINDER: SAFETY FIRST! I remove all the knives and sharp objects or anything that can potentially injure him before I call him to help me.
With Micah, I had him put the plates and bowls on the floor because the shelf was too high for him to reach. I placed one of each on the ground so he would know where to put what item. I found it interesting that he made another pile for the 2 plates that had a design on them from the plain plates pile.

IMG_7183IMG_7175

7. Setting up the table.
Ask him to get the utensils one at a time for each member of the family. He can help put the plate on the table or give each person a napkin.

8. Clean up!
They generally enjoy doing this. Micah likes using the sponge to wipe down the table or the counter. He likes tossing trash in the garbage and sweeping the floor.

IMG_7210

Laundry Room:

1. He/ She can help load and unload the washer and dryer.

image

With a newborn around and countless diapers to change, Micah has been officially the diaper & wipes helper! He is in charge of getting us a diaper and the pack of wipes while throwing out the yucky ones. He also our little errand boy and helps with getting the blanket, the milk bottles and sometimes the TV remote. I sometimes purposely leave the dirty diapers on the floor or the table because he loves finding them and saying, “Mama, Micah tapon sura.” (translation: Tapon: “throw away” and sura (basura) “trash” in Tagalog) and he happily runs off to dump them. (I didnt teach him this but he started started stepping on his footstool so he can push the diapers down the chute. In the last picture, he returns it to his room.)

image-3

With a little help and a lot of patience, teach your tot to participate in keeping your home clean and tidy. While they may often leave a whirlwind of chaos in their footsteps, they actually need order as much as you do. So take the time to teach your little learner and it will benefit you too!

1. Keep his physical limitations in mind.
Micah struggled with putting away the plates because reaching for the counter that was too high made him feel frustrated, thus I let him lay them out on the floor instead. I also took out the baskets of utensils and placed them on the table with the tray so he can easily see and place the spoons and forks properly into their proper compartments.

2. Keep your instructions simple.
Instead of telling your child to clean up his toys or tidy up this mess, you can say, “Honey, why don’t we put all your balls into the basket.” Or, arrange your books on the shelf. Giving him a specific instruction makes it easier for him to comprehend what you are asking him to do. You don’t want him to feel discouraged because his inability to meet your expectations.

3. Model the behavior.
In the beginning, demonstrate how to properly put away the toys or arrange the books and work with him. Describe the steps you are taking such as picking up the balls one at a time (because realistically we can pick up 3 balls at a time and they probably can only pick one up at a time.) Eventually, you can slowly fade away and help only when necessary. It will get to a point when you don’t have to help because he knows the routine.

4. Make it fun!
Sing a song, google one or make one up if you don’t know any clean up song. Whistle while you work just like how Snow White and the 7 dwarves did it! Putting away the toys with a song can transform this dreadful task to a fun game.

5. Turn helping into a habit.
This takes time and patience. Gentle reminders help your child establish the habit of helping out. Praise their efforts especially when they remember to it on their own initiative. Some people use a chores chart to remind the child on what he has to do.

6. Be realistic!
This will not happen overnight and it will not be perfect. Building character takes time but investing in teaching your child how to be a good helper is well worth the wait!

Now go have fun with your little helper!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13

Apple and Banana

Find out what’s on your baby’s mind! 

      Every parent keeps their ears open for the magical day when their little one utters his or her first recognizable word. In the meantime, we all relay on the cute cooing or the sweet smile or the loud cry or the desperate scream to understand what he or she is trying to say. Gestures and nonverbal sounds function as your child’s means of communication. It is his or her first language before the spoken word. These facial expressions, body movements and sounds are precursors for baby sign language. Baby sign is a great way for parents to bond with their children as well as to ease their frustration.  It is a perfect introduction to a lifelong communication that occurs between parent and child.

I was compelled to write this tonight, despite it being late and me being tired. I had to share my joy as a mom when my dear Micah signed back two words that I would randomly teach him during meal time. I started signing with Micah when he was 3 months old. I knew at that time he wouldn’t respond but I just did it anyway. (Please know that I did not know how to sign prior to having Micah. I just knew the alphabet and the potty sign. I read books, had flash cards and recorded Signing Time on TV so I can watch it during my free time.) But because I wanted him to learn how to communicate with me when the time came, I kept signing words as we went along. We even went to signing classes while we were in Manila. At 8 months, Micah signed milk for the first time. I was very excited! It encouraged me a lot and my sweet husband joined in the signing wagon! He started watching Signing Time with me and he would go through the flash cards while he ate breakfast right before he went to work. From milk to more, light to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, from bath and water, to signing 3 Little Ducks as we sang the song, words just kept coming. We found ourselves looking through flash cards and watching Signing Time on Saturdays to learn more signs to keep up with all the words he can learn.

Today, as Micah and I went through the fruit aisle at the local grocery store to gather our list of fruits, he started signing apple as I picked one up. He kept signing as I added more into the bag. He popped the banana sign as we walked by the banana stand. He signed want because I didn’t get the bananas. (They were too ripe.)  He looked at me as I got strawberries, unfortunately I didn’t know what the sign for strawberry was. I know it was just 2 new signs today but I was so encouraged because sometimes, I do feel like he is not learning anything and I will just wait till he can speak for him to communicate with me. But God in His sweet way encouraged me to keep signing because it is paying off.  I came home and tried learning how to sign grapes, avocadoes and strawberries. The veggies will come next. Micah is now able to sign please and thank you, ask for water, he asks us to come, let me know he is sleepy and wants to go to bed, play ball and other random simple words. From mealtime, to bath time, to playtime, to bedtime, Micah is able to let us know his needs using the signs he knows. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, screaming is still involved but equipping him with the appropriate signs allows us to understand him the next time he may need or want something. He politely signs “please water” during meal time when he would like a glass of water or he would say yes or no when he is asked to make a choice.

We were in Cabo, Mexico last week for a family vacation and my in-laws were so impressed with how many words Micah could sign. They started learning some and by the end of the week, they were signing too. It was neat to see them want to communicate with their grandson.

Would signing interfere with a child’s speech development, a lot of parents ask? No. In fact, the opposite is true. It actually improves your child’s language and vocabulary. It enhances the language and not replace it.   Signs allow your child to make the connection between the spoken word and the gesture.  In time, your child will say the word or sign it while you say it. As your child’s spoken vocabulary grows, you can stop signing those words. However, you may still want to add signs to the new words you introduce. Although your child may be pronouncing certain words while signing, sometimes only one consonant or one syllable is clear. This is why modeling the sign is still useful—it will help you figure out what he is trying to say! Micah says “wawa” for water. We didn’t know what “wawa” meant but when he signed water right after, we figured it out!  Now, we know that “wawa” is water.

Top 10 Baby Signs Tips

(I’ve gathered these from book and personal experience; feel free to add more if you have any!)

1. Be patient and persistent! It takes a few months for your infant to sign his or her first one.

*It took me 8 months to get Micah to sign milk and more.

2. Get your child’s attention before you sign. If he is not looking at you, don’t sign. You are wasting your time.

3. Start with simple words or words your child can relate to: milk and more (It worked for us!) please and thank you, eat, water, light, cheese and bye-bye. You can eventually add to the list as you go on. As you both get more comfortable signing, you can add more words to the list especially those that interest him or her.

*Micah loves to drink milk and he loves to eat so milk and more worked quite well for us. He likes cheese a lot so he picked that up quickly too. My in-laws have a dog named Oreo. Whenever Micah would hear the word Oreo or dog or even see a picture of a dog, he would sign “dog”.  Now that Micah is interested in cars, trucks and balls, he has learned the signs for these as wel

4. Pair each spoken word with a sign and REPEAT it!

*Each time he asks for something, we sign please and say the word please, now he understands that he has to sign please when he asks for something. (repetition is highly encouraged!) Consistency is key!

5. Pay attention to your child.

*Sometimes your baby will create a variation of a sign, so just be flexible and follow your baby’s lead. It’s not as important to do the correct sign as it is to convey the correct message.

*The sign for water is a W and going to your mouth, Micah’s version is only the pointer finger to his mouth because he can’t form the W with his 3 fingers yet. Once you start becoming familiar with your child’s signs, you will be able to determine what he or she is trying to tell you.

6. Praise your child’s first attempts, this encourages him or her to continue to sign to you!

*I was shocked when Micah signed apple today at the store and I clapped and hugged him excitedly! He smiled and did it again as I placed the apples inside the bag. As I excitedly shared it with Chris, Micah pointed to the apple and signed it again for daddy! (daddy’s heart melted!)

7. Sign during daily routines and playtime (and anytime you know the sign for a word)

*Because I sign sleep and bed to him as I say, “Micah it’s time to go to sleep in your bed.”, he started signing sleep and bed when he got tired and wanted a nap during the day. He would even sign bed when he sees his bed.

8. Make signing fun!

Sign with your body, his body, with the doll’s or the teddy! Be creative and laugh while you are signing. Singing helps a lot especially when the words are repetitive. Make it interactive, engaging and exciting!

9. Get the whole family involved!

*You don’t have to do this alone! Get everyone in on the signing fun! This will give your child more opportunities to practice! This will help you with getting them to babysit too because they will know what your child needs!) That’s why my in-laws are signing too!

10. Don’t’give up! Don’t get lazy!

*Sometimes, you will get discouraged (especially in the beginning) but hang in there! Your baby will sign back to you (eventually). Once your baby masters a few words, he or she will be encouraged to do more and more! It’s a snowball effect of signs and words! It will be worth it!

More signs, less frustration for you and your baby!

Come sign with me! 
This is my favorite sign! Micah signs pray as we get ready to thank Jesus for all His blessings! His cue to sign pray is when we say "Dear Jesus" or "let's pray".

This is my favorite sign! Micah signs pray as we get ready to thank Jesus for all His blessings! His cue to sign pray is when we say “Dear Jesus” or “let’s pray”.

Micah has to sign "All Done" before he can be excused from the table.

Micah has to sign “All Done” before he can be excused from the table.

Micah signs “water” as he asks for a glass of water at the dinner table.

images-2

Micah’s favorite mealtime signs!

images-3

Our CHEAT SHEET! These are the flash cards my husband uses during breakfast.

I have one set upstairs and one set by the dining room! :)

I have one set upstairs and one set downstairs!

Rachel! She's a mom of 2 and the founder of Signing Time! We watch her on TV!

Rachel! She’s a mom of 2 and the founder of Signing Time! We watch her on TV!

I use this book as my sign dictionary during reading time. It has a lot of easy to follow signs for everyday things.

I use this book as my sign dictionary during reading time. It has a lot of easy to follow signs for everyday words.

Productive Playtime = A Wipes Dispenser and Some Squares

Ironically, Micah got some nice, expensive, noisy and colorful toys during Christmas, but he preferred playing with the boxes and the wrapping paper. Can anyone else relate to this?!   If you are looking for a productive playtime activity that will last you through a couple of stages in your child’s development, I’ve got one for you.  With your empty wipes dispenser you can make a toy that is inexpensive, reusable and educational!

Chris had walked away to grab something from the kitchen and when he walked back, he noticed that Micah was unusually quiet (Micah often talks to himself while playing on his mat).  This is what he saw:

tissue box

YES.  Micah emptying out our tissue box and loving it!  Look at his concentration!  Secretly, I have been waiting for this moment because I remember excitedly going to Joanne’s (a fabric store) after Halloween and picking out shimmery, velvety and fluffy fabrics on sale (thanks to the super moms who make costumes for their kids) to put this project together. I already had an empty wipes dispenser and I just needed a variety of cut out cloth squares to put in it to complete our new toy. Voila! Here it is!

Image

Micah’s activity box!

After the stunt he pulled with emptying out our tissue box, I realized he was finally ready for this activity. He was going to learn a couple of skills through playing and I was excited to finally get to show him what I have put together. Pulling the various cloths will teach him how to improve his fine motor development. Feeling the various textures, his tactile “discrimination” (when a child uses his 5 senses to learn and experience the world around him) will be heightened.  By learning to open and close the lid, his little fingers will develop stronger muscles and also improve his eye-hand coordination. Who knew a child could learn so much with this box? Not only is this entertaining, it is also stimulating and productive.

In the beginning, he had a difficult time pulling the squares out so I helped him by sticking a tiny piece out.  His curiosity and excitement grew as he began to pull out the first square, then the second, then the third…etc.  He was surprised that they were all different.  He felt the different textures and quickly became engaged.  He picked them up, felt them, ate them, stretched some and waved them around.  Interestingly, sometimes, he would even pick up two different squares, one in each hand, and compare them.  He played with the squares for quite some time.  Just when we were getting ready to put the squares away, I popped the lid and he got excited, again!  The activity continued toward opening and closing the lid.  Literally, we were both engaged in this activity for almost half an hour – his attention was on the box and my attention was on him. It was fascinating for me to watch my son so contented with a box- a used wipes dispenser.  I paused and realized how simple life was for him. He didn’t care about the price, he didn’t care that it wasn’t fancy or even the fact that it was used. He was just enjoying the moment. The purity of his contented heart made me smile. I pray that he will always find joy in the little things life has to offer. I pray that he will be contented with what God provides…even if it’s just a box. I can’t wait to go and get more cloths so I can switch them out and surprise him! I hope your child enjoys this activity as much as mine did! 🙂 Have fun and get shopping!

Image

This is all you need!

What you will need:

Wipes dispenser

A variety of cloths cut into squares

Steps:

1. Use up the wipes and dry out the dispenser.

*Huggies make cute containers and the little “door”/ lid is easy to open. The rubber opening is also allows their little hands to go through without getting hurt.*

Image

2. Collect fabric pieces and cut them into squares. If you have old towels or T-shirts, you can use those too. If not, head to a fabric store and cut some out. It’s very inexpensive.

*For younger children (6 months-3 years old), find fabrics with different textures, so not only do they feel different but they also look different.  ex: corduroy, velvet, cotton, silk etc. This makes them excited to see what is coming up next!

*for older children: you can find scraps of different patterned fabrics with different colors.

Image

3. Choose 4-5 cloth squares. Don’t get over excited and put all of your different fabrics in because you don’t want it to get boring. Instead, rotate your fabrics every once in a while. This keeps the box exciting and mysterious.

4. Put them inside the box.

5. Present it to your child. You can help him/her by pulling a little piece out if his/her little hands can’t reach in yet. Teach them how to pull it out. Let the fun begin!

Image

Having lots of fun!

Say Cheese!

‘Tis the season for family reunions! (falalalala lalalala) I love Christmas get togethers with my family! Opening presents around the tree, singing Christmas carols, eating a ton of food, sharing stories and making lasting memories always makes my Christmas special.

As the season approaches, I decided to start familiarizing Micah with all of my family members back in the Philippines…because…. we will be going home for the holidays!!! (yehey!) Nothing beats spending Christmas at home! It will be Micah’s first trip home too.

In order to prevent separation anxiety, I started introducing Micah to our family through pictures. I taped 3-4 pictures of different members of our family on his mirror. Every morning as part of our routine, he would crawl towards the mirror for our short “meet the family” session. I would introduce each person by telling him their names and pointing to their faces. We would go through each picture several times. I noticed that as he started to familiarize himself with the people, he showed more and more interest because he started to recognize their names and associate their faces. As I rotated the pictures, I observed that he would react differently to each set. He would often get more excited with the people he has seen rather than the ones he is “meeting” for the first time. I would always leave one familiar person so that he can always recognize someone. Since I can’t have everyone’s face on our mirror, I decided to have some of them in photo albums. I have several plastic (chewable/waterproof aka saliva proof) photo albums (from Walmart and Amazon) with inserted pictures of the other members of the family. To avoid confusion, I categorized the albums: a grandparents album, an aunties and uncles album and a cousins album.

Image

Here is a picture of my uncle Alan and my cousin Ethan with my Dad and I.

We used to sit and look at the albums together but lately, I have noticed that he would crawl towards his book box and take the photo album and start flipping through the pages independently. The movements of grabbing the album and turning pages are great ways for him to develop his pincer grasp. (developing a child’s pincer grasp is a great preparation for handwriting-Montessori method!) Sometimes he reacts to the familiar faces with excitement, other times he is just mesmerized by the parade of colorful images.  This has quickly become one of his favorite floor time activities!

Image

I’m learning how to flip through the pages!

What you would need:

A small photo album – the type where the photos slide into clear plastic pockets

Image

Here’s my photo book! We got it from Amazon.

4×6 snapshots of  your baby and the people in his life

Image

Micah’s focused on his picture with his Auntie Connie.

Here are some helpful tips:

Image

This is my Lola. Lola means grandma in Tagalog.

1. The photos I chose are of one family member and Micah. This helps him focus on the person instead of getting distracted with several other faces. (One photo per page is the best!)

2. In addition to relatives, you can add photos of your child’s favorite toys, activities, caregivers and pets.

3. I have several albums so we can look through different ones throughout the day without having to switch photos every time. The photos for the mirror are the only ones I rotate.

Image

A Mat, A Mirror and A Coffee Table

Welcome to our Montessori Living Room

You can set up your own Montessori living room with just a mat, a mirror and a coffee table! I am a firm believer of the Montessori method so I decided to try and create an environment that encourages independence in our home. I believe that you can equip your child by creating a safe place for him and then giving him the freedom to explore on his own. It’s really simple! All you need is a mat or blankets, a mirror (the one I use the full length mirror from Target…the ones they put on sale for college kids!) and a coffee table or a low shelf where your child can reach for his own toys. I just used my the bottom half of  our coffee table and placed 4-5 of the toys he can choose from. You can also the cube boxes (again from Target) and lay them on their sides so your child can reach in to grab a toy. My friend lent me this awesome mat. Otherwise I would have used blankets and laid them out or a huge rug. (Ikea usually have good ones) 🙂

Image

There’s the mirror, the mat and the bottom shelf of the coffee table with 4-5 toys to choose from.

Image

items on the shelfImageI use the cube box to hold his books.

Image

the mat, the mirror and the cube

I didn’t think Micah would quite understand the concept of taking a toy from the shelf and playing with it. But I wanted to give it a shot. My son was about 4 months old when I started showing him how to do it. I would hand him a toy from the shelf while he was looking at the shelf during tummy time. When he was around 5 months and rolling around, I noticed he would “roll” himself towards the shelf but when he would reach for a toy, he would get frustrated because he wouldn’t be able to get it off the shelf. I would usually tell him I would help him and hand him the toy. We would practice this every day during tummy time. When he learned how to crawl, everything changed! As his legs got stronger, his arm muscles did too! Whenever I would put him down on the mat, he would prop himself up and crawl towards the shelf. He would look through the items on the shelf and carefully make his selection! haha It took him a few tries but last week, he just reached over and grabbed a toy by himself! I was shocked! I couldn’t believe it! I made him do it a couple more times because it was really fascinating to me! He didn’t think it was very cool though because I would put the toy back and move him farther away and then have him work his way back and do everything again! I just wanted to catch it on video! It was pretty cool to watch him gravitate towards the shelf and even pause (like he is choosing which toy he wants) before reaching for it. By the way, it always ends up in his mouth! (I do a wipe down of the mat, the toys and the shelf after his activities because he is a drool machine!) He is trying to reach for the books now but I think it’s still a little challenging but I can’t wait to see what he will do next!

Image

Micah crawls towards the wall and tries to reach the toy!

Image

Micah independently gets his toy! Great job buddy!

Guess what! You don’t have to wait till he is bigger to set this up! I used the mirror and mat set up since Micah was a newborn. Tummy time and reading time would happen here! He would entertain himself by looking in the mirror. The mirror helps the baby focus, track images and explore what his/ her face can do! Not to mention that it promotes social and emotional development as he/ she interacts with you. You can introduce your baby to the different parts of his/ her face and by touching his nose, stroking his hair or kissing his cheeks. Even though he/she may not know what these words mean, it delights him/her to just interact with you. 🙂

Image

Micah was only a few days old in this picture but he was already checking himself out!

Image

Micah was around 3 months in this picture.

Hope you have fun setting up your living room for your little one!