Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking about how a few cubes of ice in the bowl take longer to melt than the one cube that was sitting on the hot pavement turned into a beautiful story about having friends to help us. For me it was a profound eye opener to all that my daughter can learn with these simple invitations and activities. I started thinking about all the ways that we use water to play regularly each day and all that Little Bee learns from it. In this post I’ll be sharing:

  • What is Water Play?
  • What is the Importance of Water Play?
  • The 14 Benefits of Water Play for Children
  • Great Tools for Water Play
  • Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
  • Water Play Safety
  • Books About Water Play

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

What is water play?

Water play is an open ended invitation to learn through play using water in any form (ideas shared below). By providing these simple but meaningful learning opportunities for your child you are allowing them to investigate, test theories, strengthen their bodies, develop their social-emotional skills and so much more. Read on to learn the 14 benefits of water play for children and some great activities to engage your little learner using the water around them.  

What is the importance of water play for children?

Versatile and unique each time, water play allows this open ended invitation for learning through play and opens up this learning to the rest of the day and into lifelong experience. As you will read in the benefits and development that comes from this incredibly simple activity, you’ll find yourself happily providing buckets and tubs of water for your little one to enjoy all year long! Children are able to develop in all areas, experiment, investigate, and discover, all the wonders of water. Although normally provided to younger children as a learning tool, children of all ages love water play (even adults find themselves pouring and stirring to relax in the beautiful outdoors).

Benefits of Water Play for Children

Click each link below to learn more about the identified area of learning.

1. Develop motor skills and physical strength:

Both fine and gross motor skills are developed during water play while using tools such as cups and bowls for pouring, brushes and sponges for scrubbing and squeezing, spoons and sticks for stirring and splashing, mastering pincer grip (key in pencil holding for drawing and writing), carrying buckets of water across the yard, lifting pots filled with water out of a larger container. Kicking legs and moving arms in the pool, splashing mom and dad in the wading pool or stomping in the puddles. The whole body is engaged and being strengthened.

2. Develop hand eye coordination:

Using the above listed tools for play, children are mastering the messages from brain to muscles to fine tune their coordination through play. These skills are helpful in reading, writing, sports, daily life tasks such as self dressing, just to name a few.

3. Learning about temperature:

Changing forms of water based on temperature. How water cools, or warms depending on the temperature of the air, how those (safely) feel on our skin.

4. Problem solving skills:

Water play expects no specific outcome or pressure for the child and provides hands on learning which promotes faster and more meaningful understanding in problem solving. Playing with the impact water has on well loved toys; those that sink or float, have holes that water flows through are just the beginning in figuring out the power of water.

5. Develop imaginative play and creative thinking:

Working through a complex problem like what to do when a container has a hole in it, or when water needs to move from one place to another, children are able to stretch the boundaries of their imagination and creativity to come up with clever solutions to new but playful problems.

6. Language Development:

Between the shrieks of excitement and bursts of laughter, you will be able to introduce few words to your little ones: splash, wave, wet, damp, dry, weight, bob, sink, drain, flow, pour, drenched, drip, bubble, stir, spill to name a few. Encouraging them to describe what they are doing as they do it allows you to add on to their sentence with these new words, while building their confidence and strength in conversation development.

7. Emotional Development:

Although initially exciting, playing with water allows children to do an activity over and over (such as pouring) resulting in a relaxation and calmness. Playing in larger bodies of water burns incredible amounts of energy by using the whole body in play which is a wonderful stress reliever for children. The beautiful sounds created by flowing water, waves crashing, trickling drips and drops creates an ambiance of peace and tranquility.

8. Concentration:

Doing an activity over and over (using the example of pouring again) allows children to focus on what is going on and take new information away from the activity, while promoting space and time for them to come up with creative thoughts. It’s incredible what conversations can erupt from a simple pouring activity.

9. Social skills:

When playing in the water with a group, children are encouraged to share and cooperate; sharing tools and space and cooperating over the flow of the water to keep it from spilling out of the bucket or table, or pouring slowly so a friend can catch the water.

10. Sensory play (more information here):

Water itself provides an incredible sensory experience, but adding materials of all sorts (ideas listed below) will intrigue your little ones senses and extend this play activity into an amazing developmental one.

11. Science and math (post on math development here) development:

Mixing materials, full, empty, more, less, heavy, light, fast, slow, measure, compare, buoyancy, temperature, movement, float, sink, melt, freeze, estimation, counting, tallying, the way water flows, how many buckets does it take to fill the wading pool, what happens if there is a hole in one of the buckets? It’s so amazing what is covered in what seems to be such simple play. Complex ideas covered in school are experienced in real life and hands on learning while splashing in the water.

12. Dramatic and pretend play:

By acting out real life situations such as washing dishes, scrubbing toys, giving toys a bath, cooking, become a scientist (mad or otherwise), children are given a stage to learn more about the world and people around them and to practice real life skills.

13. Nature connection:

Take this play outside and use the natural items around you to engage with the water. Leaves that float, rocks that sink, wind blowing bubbles, what happens when the sun shines on icicles hanging from the house? You don’t need to spend a fortune to have engaging and meaningful water play.

14. Apply to everyday activities and connect to real world:

Using a bucket of water outside and adding anything from mud to flour, you can allow your little one to learn about how the consistency of the mixture changes, how it becomes more difficult to stir. This is a great time to take conversation to what they might know about in the kitchen when baking or when using paint. What happens when we stir two things together? Then, when you are together in the kitchen making supper or a special treat, you can easily transfer this information to what they see before them (great freebie downloadable activity for that here). Taking the play conversations to other activities extends the learning and supports your child in making connections about the world.

Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard
Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

Great Tools for Water Play

Although certainly not necessary, there are amazing toys on the market that can extend playful learning with water.

Green Toys Seaplane Green
Green Toys Tide Pool Bath Set
Science4you - Water Experiments
Splish & Splash Water Play Set

Activities that you can easily do at home to enrich water play

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers We love playing with water in any form (and there are lots!):

  • Buckets and tubs of water on the kitchen floor, in the backyard or driveway
  • Water balloons (adding color to burst on white paper when thrown, or simply enjoying the movement of water inside the balloon)
  • Sprinkler fun
  • Watching ice cubes melt
  • Tea party
  • Painting with ice cubes
  • Creating in the snow, painting snow, bring snow inside
  • Watering plants (indoor and out)
  • Creating mud pies
  • Splashing in the tub
  • Jelly water beads (these are a favorite at our house)
  • Swimming at the pool
  • Jumping in puddles
  • Making rainbows in the sunshine by spraying the hose
  • Blowing and creating bubbles
  • Local wading pools and water parks
  • Washing dishes (and toys) in the sink or outside
  • Playing in a nearby pond, lake or beach
  • “Painting” with water (this helps to get lawn furniture super clean, or the side of the house!)
  • Spray bottles
  • Funnels and tubes. How can you connect all the funnels and tubes to make a long path for the water?
  • Watering cans
  • Creating your own waterfalls by building a rock or wooden wall
  • Making paper boats to race
  • Making paddles out of wood
  • Adding sparkles, rocks, sand, dirt, grass, flour or rice
  • Pasta (cooked or raw)
  • Food coloring (I know this sounds messy but read this to learn about the benefits).
  • Extend the play by handing your child a mop
  • Taking standard indoor toys outside and see how they deal with being immersed in water
  • Popsicle sticks soaked in water overnight and then shaped along the inside of a tin can (when it dries in this form it becomes a bracelet which you could paint!)
  • A bar of soap and liquid soap
  • Using kitchen items (spoons, bowls, pancake flippers) makes for a world of fun.
  • Throw all sorts of items in the water and see which float and which sink. This is a great activity to use a tally sheet and count each item and then separate and compare. Amazing math skills being learned here.
Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

What to keep in mind for water play with children – water play safety

  • Adult supervision – water is always dangerous for children, even small amounts of water. In addition to how much more meaningful it is to have you involved in the play it is critically important that you stay nearby for safety. If you’re swimming in a body of water, pool or splash pad and don’t feel confident around water yourself, ensure that you are somewhere that a lifeguard is employed and is properly trained.
  • This is a good chance to also talk about water safety without creating a sense of fear. Having a respect for water can go a long way to ensure lifelong safety around water. You are never saying this too often and reminders as your child gets older (despite rolling eyes) is well worth it.
  • Lifejackets and floatation devices are wonderful but they are not all created equal. Make sure to check that it fits properly, has not expired and is not damaged before using and a proper safety tool like this should be marked with your country’s safety standards.
  • Although it doesn’t always need to, water play tends to be outside. To stay safe in the sun ensure you are using a good quality sunscreen like our favourite one here.
  • As always, using small toys (or learning tools such as ice) poses a choking hazard for children. Use caution and be an active member in the play.
  • Slippery when wet – yup. Everything gets slippery and sloppy and messy. Towels everywhere make this much better but a good spray with the garden hose first helps. If you’re playing inside it goes without saying (even though I am indeed saying it now) that the floor will be a mess and very dangerous to walk on for feet of all sizes. More towels. All of the towels.
  • Have the children take part in the clean up as part of the activity and setting the stage for responsibility (read more about that here).
Toddlers, preschoolers and even mom and dad find something calming about having hands in water and pouring from cup to cup. The learning benefits are extraordinary and paired with these awesome activity ideas you will be overlooking the mess and diving into the learning and development for your little one. #kidactivities #activities #kids #outdoor #indoor #ideas #play #kindergarten #infants #diy #backyard

Amazing books about water play

Have a look at Big Sarah’s Little Boots by Paulette Bourgeois (Published by Kids Can Press), The Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch (Annick Press), or D.W. All Wet, by Marc Brown (Little, Brown).

With a beautiful summer ahead of us, Little Bee and I have many more days of water play ahead and will update the list as we come up and test out more activities.

 

I would love to hear from you on how you use water play to engage your child at home. Do you like to make it extra messy and add fun ingredients to the water or keep it simple and splash around with toys and tools?

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

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Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She is already 2.5 and it is recommended by the Canadian Dental Association that children go within six months of their first tooth popping through. Oops… But we really didn’t have any concerns about her oral health and we have a dentist in the family who had taken a look a few times over the last 2 years. She’s been so great to brush and floss each day since we had made that a part of her routine (read more about the importance of routine here) so early on in her life.

But it was time to take her before fears and messaging from others led her to believe it was a negative experience, when it most certainly doesn’t need to be. We’ve read so many wonderful books that focus on tooth care and dentists that she was gaining interest on her own and I wanted to run with it. I also knew that the dentist office was not an environment like any other she had seen before and she is very sensitive to noise, which there can be a lot of at the dentist. But it needed to be done.

In this post I’ll be sharing:

  • 20 Tips for Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist
  • The Best Books for Introducing the Dentist to Your Child
  • What You Can Expect From Your First Visit to the Dentist – Our Experience
  • Fun (and Educational) Activities You Can Do with Your Kids at Home to Learn about the Dentist and Tooth Care (with freebies to download!)
  • Amazing Videos and Songs to Support You in Preparing for Your Child’s First Dentist Trip
  • Songs to Print Off and Sing with Your Kids to Make Tooth Brushing a Little Bit More Fun (free download)!

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Preparing for the First Trip to the Dentist with Your Child

 

20 Tips for Preparing Your Child for their First Trip to the Dentist

  1. Make oral care a regular part of your routine (more on the importance of routines here). Brushing and flossing every day is a great chance to talk about our teeth: why they are important and why we need to take care of them. Brush your child’s teeth to ensure they are cleaned correctly and then let them follow up on their own (post about buildling independence and responsibility here) while you watch and support. Do this until they get the hang of it and check in often to make sure it is being done correctly. 
  2. Let them see you taking great care of your own teeth! Tell them why you brush when you do, what it looks like to see you flossing and how it’s a part of your everyday as well.
  3. Read about the dentist and taking care of our teeth (recommendations below). Including the tooth fairy (optional to your house and beliefs on these things) was an aspect that peaked my daughter’s interest. Why would a fairy want me to brush my teeth?! It was a fun reason to dive into more books!
  4. Watch videos about what they will see when they go to the dentist (provided for you below) so your child can see and hear what they will encounter: chair, equipment, noises.
  5. Some people recommend having your child join you for an appointment of your own but I didn’t opt to do this. My daughter is a social butterfly and I knew she would be in the office’s lunch room chatting it up with anyone she could as soon as I was under the lamp and mid way through a cleaning. It just wasn’t going to work for us. If I had been able to bring someone along to have her see the beginning of my visit, I might have done this but I knew my office was willing to offer a meet and greet that was all about her.
  6. Remind your child about what they will see and hear at the dentist before their appointment, keeping it positive, light and simple and in line with their development and age.
  7. Stay positive about the whole experience. From every tooth brushing, story read and appointment made. I know that lots of people have stories that would give you goosebumps about the dentist but it really doesn’t need to be that way if you find the right care. Be a positive role model for a great experience. 
  8. Go to the dentist early on in your child’s development (this is one of those “do as I recommend, not as I do” points… *mom guilt cringe*)
  9. Choose a dentist office that works well with children or specializes in children. Ask your friends where they go, reach out to local Facebook groups for recommendations, check a few out online and make calls. Don’t hesitate to go in ahead of time and check it out if you haven’t been there before.
  10. Play dentist at home! Let you child check your teeth, print off the freebies I’ve included in this post and set up a dentist office in your living room or playroom. After watching a few videos, let your child take the lead on what they want to act out (more on that here) and listen for hesitation or questions in their play. Be there to answer questions through playing along. Check everyone’s teeth in the family (with their consent) and favorite stuffed animals who may be due for a check up.
  11. Let your dentist know ahead of time of any concerns or habits that may impact healthy oral development like thumb sucking or going to bed with milk or juice. That way they can be prepared with excellent information for you and not have to discuss it in front of your child if you preferred they didn’t.
  12. Talk with your dental office about what they do during a first visit as each office offers something different. I’ll go through what happened at ours further on in the post. But knowing ahead of time prevents a surprised Mama face for your child, and allows you time to reassure and prepare both your child and yourself.
  13. Use fun toothbrushes (like this awesome light up timer brush that’s super reasonably priced) that are appropriate for children but make tooth brushing time engaging.
  14. Use floss that takes the intimidation of having a giant set of adult hands in their mouth like these amazing flossers that we use
  15. Find out if your local water source adds fluoride to the water. Many communities do but lots do not. It’s extra important to use flouride early on especially if you don’t have flouride in your water (more on that here from the Canadian Dental Association).
  16. Use a toothpaste with fluoride, (in the smallest amount you can get on the brush – smaller than a pea – see previous point) especially if your child doesn’t spit it out)  keeping in mind a little goes a long way. These kits are awesome for stocking up on toothbrushes and paste with characters your kids love.
  17. Avoid starchy and sugary foods as they can cause issues with decay. I know right, your child lives on pasta and crackers like mine, but here’s a post and activity that will help with that.
  18. Prepare yourself for non-standard behavior from your child and just roll with it. Part of the preparation really is within yourself and being relaxed. There is a lot going on in a dental office and it’s not unreasonable for your child to be uncomfortable (and they always have an exciting way to show you that emotion, don’t they?). You don’t need to accomplish anything in particular at this appointment. The goal is a warm introduction and not a series of successful tests. It’s all about your child and letting them come to understand what happens at the dentist. If you need to leave early, that’s fine. Anything the office needs to know they can collect over the phone after if your time is cut short.
  19. Bring along a favorite stuffed animal or comfort item and let your child know that you will also be there every step of the way.
  20. Have fun with it, take pictures and enjoy yet another incredible milestone. Our children grow to fast and this is a big step in setting them up for lifelong success. Pat yourself on the back for being an amazing mom!
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Back To School _DSeries 125x125

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Introducing the Dentist to Your Child Through Books

These are the best books we have in our home library about the dentist and they are in high rotation.

Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips

What to expect on the first trip to the dentist with your toddler or preschooler

Our experience was really wonderful. After spending lots of time talking about teeth and taking care of our teeth each day, I knew Little Bee was eager to see what it was all about and the meet and greet my dental office offered was perfect for this!

Going to the Dentist for the First Time

We decided to go early enough that I could fill out the required paperwork for a first visit (which just ensures that there are no health problems or concerns) and to let Little Bee take a peek around. But I knew not to go so early that she would be having a difficult time waiting for her turn for something she was now excited about.

Choosing the Right Care for a First Dentist Visit

Although it is often recommended to go to a paediatric dentist, I opted to go to my normal dentist and dental hygienist as I knew them well and felt they would work wonderfully with my daughter. This was my choice and I have heard from many friends that they were pleased to go to a special dentist geared toward children. I think this is a preference thing. I knew my daughter would be more than fine at my office (and my office more than fine with her) so I didn’t want to have to switch her care after she outgrew the children’s dentist.

Warmly met in the waiting room by our fantastic dental hygienist, Pierre, we were led into the well known version of a dental office: the chair, light, equipment and sounds. Little Bee can be sensitive to noise and this was the only area I thought would be a problem. But, after telling her that the noises around her were suctions like the vacuum we had at home and clicking drawers and tools being used to help people, she seemed to be happy with the explanation and moved onto wondering about the chair and why it was so big.

What happens at a child’s first dentist visit

This visit was all about an introduction and when I had called to book the appointment the receptionist reminded me of the expectation that it would be quick, simplified and talk through all the normal activities of a dental checkup; perfect for us.

Pierre showed Little Bee how the chair moved up and down, some of the commonly used tools (mirror, water, suction, polisher) and let her investigate them as she wished. He gave her a glove to hold onto and to keep her hands busy, took images of her teeth with a tiny camera and showed her the pictures on the screen. He was clear to explain exactly what he was going to do before he did it and watched for signs of hesitation from my daughter. I really can’t say enough about his approach with children and the care he took to make sure she was comfortable, asking the millions of questions she had for him. Thank you, Pierre!

After going through the basics with her, he gave her teeth a quick check and talked with me about our oral care routines at home. To include her in the conversation, he brought out a giant set of teeth for her to brush with an equally oversized toothbrush – the highlight of the trip! He used the opportunity to talk to her about healthy brushing habits and the importance of flossing. He offered to polish her teeth, which she welcomed for a few pearly whites but lost interest in that pretty quickly. That was more than okay because we had already achieved what I had hoped for in a pleasant and positive first visit.

An Easy First Experience (for both of us) at the Dentist

After all was said and done, Pierre let Little Bee pick a toy from a box and a new toothbrush of her choosing (along with some other loot which she wasn’t as excited about; floss and toothpaste made for kiddos! Momma Bee on the other hand was pumped for the free stuff!), we were led back out the way we came with high fives and smiles from everyone we encountered. I paid the bill, booked the next appointment in 6 months time and we were done!

It was quick and easy; a relief for me and an adventure for her, and a reminder of why I love my dental office so much.

Activities You Can Do at Home with Your Child to Talk About the Dentist and Taking Care of Their Teeth

Learning through play is a huge passion of mine (more about the benefits here), so creating opportunities to talk with Little Bee while we play goes a long way in preparing her for big events in her life, like going to the dentist for the first time and taking on the care of her teeth as she gets older. Talking about why it’s important to brush our teeth might not be the most enthralling discussion for a 2.5 year old, but paired with a fun activity, it can easily become a story all on it’s own.

 

Great ideas for learning through play about tooth care

 

Cleaning Teeth (using a toothbrush)

 

Using the freebies provided, which you can download now by clicking the purple and teal buttons below, you can print off a great big tooth to be laminated (or not, your preference). If you are going to laminate the tooth, you will be able to do this activity again and again by having your little one (or you) draw or write (depending on age) all the foods that can stain or damage our teeth with a whiteboard marker. Then with a toothbrush (that you are no longer using for brushing teeth) you can wipe away the words, pictures and marks that had been made on the tooth!

 

If you decide not to laminate, or print additional copies on paper alone, you can use your toothbrush and floss to paint your tooth (finger paint recipe here) with fun designs, getting your child comfortable manipulating the brush and floss, getting to know them and allowing for conversations to happen naturally around tooth care.

 

Playing dentist

 

Printing off the bits and pieces that you may find at the dentist office in the freebie provided, you can turn your living room or playroom into a dentist’s office! Let your child watch the videos provided below and give them the printed (and laminated for lasting play) aspects of a dental office. You can tell them the name of each and model how to use them on a teddy or sibling (match the word and object with older children for an additional literacy activity). Let your child take charge of the play if they are interested or simply leave the printables out and watch the play unfold when you least expect it! When inviting play like this, it’s best to keep your eyes and ears available to hear any hesitation, questions or concern you child plays out and take the opportunity to jump into the game and reassure your little one through positive reminders and support about the dentist and dental hygienist. Your voice, body language and comfort with “playing dentist” will go a long way to set your little ones at ease for their own experience.

 

Songs about our teeth make brushing more fun!

 

I discovered these amazing songs from Family First Dental’s website and thought they were too good not to share so I created my own printables of their songs (with a few changes to make it our own)! How cute are these?! Feel free to download your copy and sing along with your kids when it’s tooth brushing time!

 

The Best Videos That Introduce Your Child to the Dentist and Tooth Care

This first video is really sweet – it walks you through a little boy’s first adventure with the dentist and then goes into more information about teeth and taking care of our teeth. It’s a pretty old clip – think back to when YOU probably watched it on TV when it first aired… but the information is all great and worth watching with your little one.
 
Using these 20 amazing tips for preparing your toddler or preschooler for their first trip to the dentist everyone in the family will feel ready for the visit. I'll walk you through our first experience and have a few amazing FREEBIES to help make your first visit go great! #dentist #kids #firsttime #planning #freedownload #activities #besttipsfordentisttrips

Awesome stories and songs about going to the dentist and taking care of teeth to watch with your children

After having this first visit under our belt, Little Bee and I plan to go twice a year to the dentist until they recommend otherwise. Keeping the care of her teeth top of mind we will continue to implement the routine of brushing and flossing at least twice a day (more if a sugary or sticky meal has been enjoyed because let’s get real, it happens). But key to all of this really is the nutrition we provide our children, critical to their physical, mental, psychological, and oral development. Choosing foods and drinks that partner with healthy tooth development and maintenance continues to be important in her overall development, and mine too. That part is hard to remember when you have a soft spot for cupcakes like I do…

I would love to hear about your first experiences at the dentist with your little ones or what you have on your mind as you think about taking your child for the first time.

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She...

read more

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Summer Days with Kids Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do,...

read more

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start? Picture it - one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the...

read more
Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload

Summer Days with Kids

Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that the colder months of the year tend not to allow. It also means we are all over the map when it comes to our schedule. Well, not this year! This year I vow to maintain some consistency to my days, and you’ll soon hear why my friend Kristen Evans and I believe so strongly in routine and how to work around the challenges to keeping one in the summer.

Kristen and I will share:

  • What a flexible summer routine could look like with little ones at home
  • Dealing with the challenges of creating and maintaining a summer routine
  • Great ideas for activities to do with your children throughout the summer to help support and maintain your schedule while creating amazing memories (with a printable to download and check off as you do them!)
With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload
With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload

The Challenge of Maintaining a Routine in the Summer with Children

Kristen and I are both passionate about routine when it comes to our little ones, knowing full well the benefits that come from a flexible structure to those we love so much. This can be a bit more challenging in those summer months when you are flying by the inspiration of the day, maybe even sneaking an ice cream cone in before supper and often falling off a bedtime routine. Things always seem a little more in flux in the summer as you spend more time outside, getting grass stains on knees and soaking in the sunshine, all of which is so important to those memories made and learning opportunities to be had. Even among those moments of beauty, toes in water, warm breeze blowing your hair in every direction, there remains importance in consistency, and expectations set. Kristen was just the person to talk to when it came time to coming up with a routine to fit into our summer.

A Guide to Creating Routine with Children in Mind

Kristen speaks with such experience on her blog Data Mom, where she shares the importance of putting our children’s needs in the forefront using what we know about them and how it impacts their day. Her passion for supporting and empowering children by using the information they share with us to help us shape a plan for them is so clear in her writing. I knew she would be a wonderful guide in taking steps to create our summer routine, so I asked her a few questions:

https://datamomkristen.com/home/three-simple-tools-to-improve-daily-routines/

Why is it so important to have a routine, even during the summer when we often think of it as a time to run barefoot in the grass?

Having a routine or loose schedule gives our kiddos a framework of what to expect during the day or upcoming week. This can be even more important during summer when the week is not shaped by the school schedule. This can help transitions from one activity to the next go much more smoothly. For example, we will run barefoot in the grass as soon as we finish eating lunch.   Especially as families plan travel and other activities during the summer, it’s important that we let our kiddos know, on a level they can understand, what we will be doing (Read more in Kristen’s amazing post: Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: Why Kids Need Schedules and Routines for Summer).

What are the main areas we should focus on keeping structured and which areas could we be more flexible on?

Especially for our little ones, eating and sleeping routines should stay pretty structured. My kiddos tend to need their sleep. Even Lucy who’s almost 5 doesn’t do well if she is kept up past her bedtime. I also like to keep a loose morning routine of getting up and getting dressed even if we don’t have specific plans. This way if a play date or errand does come up, we are ready to go.   Chores and errands are another area I like to keep structured. While our kiddos should have more opportunities for fun during the summer, that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad get left with all the responsibility. With kiddos at home and playing outdoors or having playdates, there are likely more dirty dishes and more laundry. I describe lots of ways kids can help with daily chores in Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: How to Build a Summer Schedule.   Flexibility comes as we take advantage of all the activities summer gives us an opportunity to do as a family, whether you are going on vacation, visiting friends and family, having play dates, exploring museums, or of course enjoying the great outdoors. If you are traveling, be sure to pack some of those structured routines with you to give your kiddos comfort when in a new place.

What can we do to support a routine when something unexpected comes along (visitors, illness, change in location)?

Especially if you have younger kiddos, it can be helpful to proactively ask family and friends to give you a heads up before stopping by. This way, you can give your child a head’s up, for example, “Grandma is going to stop by on the way to the store. It will be fun to see Grandma!”   When the unexpected does happen, you can let your child know how the event fits in with the routines they were expecting, for example, “Grandma surprised us with a visit! We’re going to visit with Grandma for a little while, then eat dinner and take a bath.”   A little explanation can go a long way in reassuring your kiddo that the activities they are expecting will still get done. When a kiddo is sick, that might sound like this: “You need to rest today since you don’t feel well. We’ll go to the park another day.”   If possible, bring your routines with you when you travel. Reading a favorite bedtime story and doing the expected bedtime activities in the same order can help your kiddo feel more comfortable going to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room or relative’s home.

Do you have any resources to help us create and maintain routine with our little ones?

I talk about three of my favorite schedule and routine resources in my short guide, Three Simple Tools to Improve Daily Routines. In addition to those, I recommend explaining to our kiddos what the plans are and following through with what we said would happen. There are a number of other cues that can signal the time to change activities, such as a clock chiming or even the dryer turning off. I give examples of what this looks like for my kiddos in Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: How to Build a Summer Schedule.

What does your summer routine look like with your children?

Because my husband and I both continue to work over the summer, Liam continues to go to daycare and Lucy stays with a family friend while school is out. Their summer schedule changes from the school year schedule; this year, we are trying three longer days of care so we can have longer weekends for family time, play dates, and other summer activities. I will be taking weeks off here and there since the families I work with have summer plans of their own. During our long weekends and other days off, we typically get up, have breakfast (I joke that my kiddos are awake by 6 and starving by 6:01, so breakfast happens very shortly after eyes open at my house), get dressed and such in no particular hurry, run any errands we have to run, then have the rest of our day for play, play dates, and other activities.

What are some fun ways you and your children like to spend your summer days?

We love to visit a nearby zoo, go to the library, and spend lots of time with friends and family. We are very fortunate to have two wonderful families living next to and across the street from us. Between the three families there are seven kiddos so there is never a shortage of friends to play with! There will also be lots of visits with grandparents (my parents live just a few miles away and my husband’s parents are a few hours away).  Lucy has a few close friends at preschool she is looking forward to having playdates with, and we are also planning her 5th birthday party this summer. 

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Kristen

Kristen

DataMomKristen.com

I am a former special education teacher and practicing behavior analyst. My favorite and also most challenging position is Mom of two young children. I find myself eating lots of humble pie after years of giving parents advice that I must now give myself! My professional and personal experiences have taught me that parenting is not a spectator sport: it is hard work. My goal is to provide resources and strategies to parents who are willing to put in that work and watch their kiddos experience success as a result.

~Kristen

Kristen beautifully explains how important it is to continue those processes that become our routines, especially with eating and sleeping as they set the stage for the rest of the day. She walks us through how easily we can continue to do this even with the unexpected and often interrupted days that summer brings and that with planning it can still allow us to enjoy our summer and make amazing memories along the way! Let Kristen and I know how you plan to spend your summer and what techniques you apply to keep up your routine with little ones while taking in some of that amazing sunshine!
With an amazing freebie to boost the summer fun, we walk you through the ways you can keep a routine and plan for an amazing summer with your kids even with all that summer uncertainty #planning #toddler #preschoolers #summerbucketlist #freedownload

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She...

read more

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Summer Days with Kids Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do,...

read more

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start? Picture it - one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the...

read more

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She...

read more

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Summer Days with Kids Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do,...

read more

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start? Picture it - one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery

Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do, it’s because I’ve made a different meal for everyone. I’m totally over it.

Enter, genius idea and a freebie to help you make it happen.

A Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters!

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Here is an amazing printable freebie activity to help you plan ahead for meal time and involve the kids in the process - one less big decision to make in coming up with another meal idea and provide an incredible learning experience at the same time! #learningathome #mealtimestress #pickyeaters #toddler #preschooler #mealtimemisery

Here is an amazing printable freebie activity to help you plan ahead for meal time and involve the kids in the process - one less big decision to make in coming up with another meal idea and provide an incredible learning experience at the same time! #learningathome #mealtimestress #pickyeaters #toddler #preschooler #mealtimemisery #kindergarten #firstgrade #home #cooking #meals #easy #fun #educational #culturallearning #passport #flags #dinner #tips #recipes

Picky Eating Preschooler – Inspiration for Creation

 

Little Bee, my former superstar eater, has recently thrown me a curve ball in opting to have particular preferences when it comes to what she will see on her plate. Once favorite meals have been met with an upturned nose and try as I may, she just won’t see my side of the pleading. Sound familiar?

 

Avoiding Mealtime Stress

 

She will eventually eat whatever is there because we run a tight ship of “that’s what’s for dinner” at my house as ice cream, her current request (morning, noon and night) is not one of the core offerings at Maison Jessica. I don’t force her to eat anything if she really doesn’t want to, because I come from a background of complex and negative thoughts around eating and don’t want the same for her. I encourage her as much as my patience can handle, to try a bite of everything, working the angles of: it’s good for you, it will help you grow, Mommy made it especially for you, and all the others I know you’ve tried too. I want her to appreciate meal time for the slow moments and colorful food, the conversation, shared time and increased responsibility and involvement in the family, not to create a scenario of stress in all of us and potentially disordered relationship with food (read more about an amazing documentary on what our young girls and boys face from media pressure here). But, I’m also not going to serve goldfish crackers for supper (every night). Those are for me, after everyone goes to bed. They pair with a Sauvignon Blanc beautifully. Just kidding… maybe.

 

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Help for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Now I can’t promise I have the “perfect” solution, because kids are crazy hard to predict. I can’t promise that everyone will eat everything but I do find that having little ones involved in what they are eating is a HUGE help. When I was running the daycare, having everyone play a part in planning and creating the meal went a long way in having them eat it, even if it was normally not something they would try. Plus having tiny helpers in the kitchen makes for a really amazing learning experience. Which is where my amazing idea (and freebie for you) was born.

My first step was to get Little Bee more involved in making her meals, from start to finish. After doing a lot of research in how to best approach my new issue at mealtime I came to discover amazing benefits in having the kitchen be a place for hands on learning as well as supporting the issues I was having with my little sous chef.

 

20 Benefits of Having Children Help in the Kitchen

(click the links within the list for more great activities and freebies related to the topic!)

  1. creates a connection to varieties of foods
  2. increased vocabulary in talking about foods using descriptive language
  3. increased literacy and comprehension skills; reading and following directions
  4. using their senses in learning – so important (see post here)
  5. math and science experience in measuring and pouring, the reactions of ingredients mixing and changing (STEAM)
  6. increased imagination – using what they know to build upon and create new meal ideas and recipes
  7. learning life skills, cutting, sharing, sorting and of course cooking skills
  8. connections to healthy food and healthy body
  9. taking part in something the whole family benefits from
  10. learning responsibility as a member of the family (awesome post here)
  11. fine motor development
  12. hand eye coordination development
  13. wonderful connection with family time (shared cooking experience) creates an environment where conversations naturally occur. 
  14. learning about meal planning, budgeting, buying and collection food and materials
  15. seeing the connection in processes (what starts as ingredients and efforts, ends up in a beautiful meal – cause and effect)
  16. increased self esteem through learning a new skill and developing it, so that everyone benefits
  17. sensory experience (lots of ideas to support that here)
  18. more likely to to eat what they have taken part in creating (even more so if taking part in choosing, growing, and cultivating the food)
  19. learning about where food comes from and how it can be used in different ways
  20. learning about family traditions in the kitchen

Bonus Benefit: It’s fun!! and encourages learning through play!

Mapping Out a Plan to Make This A Positive Experience for All of Us

I started to work with what I know. I know Little Bee is just like all her friends in that she loves to learn in as hands-on approach as possible. She loves to be involved and she loves to take part in decisions that impact everyone. She’s a take charge kinda gal, and so long as I support the charge she is taking, it’s all good with me.

Back To School _DSeries 125x125

Meal Planning Ahead While Inviting Learning Through Play

I built out an activity that can have us planning a few meals for the week and makes a big deal out of the whole experience from start to finish, plus takes a little weight off of my shoulders in coming up with another great idea. With the freebie I share with you, you can print out a Learning Passport and a few flags to get you started on your own journey to the end of mealtime misery.

Having your littles pick a flag out of an envelope or bowl, you can start the experience of learning a little bit more about the place of choice.

Of course there are endless activities that can be paired with this and I’ll build on them soon in another post, but for now, let’s focus on this one – you can download your own Learning Passport Activity by clicking the button below.

Here is an amazing printable freebie activity to help you plan ahead for meal time and involve the kids in the process - one less big decision to make in coming up with another meal idea and provide an incredible learning experience at the same time! #learningathome #mealtimestress #pickyeaters #toddler #preschooler #mealtimemisery

What We Use to Make Helping Easier and Safer for Children in the Kitchen

The Reality of Having Kids Help in the Kitchen

Sure, it’s going to be messy, it’s going to take longer, you’re going to have to watch every move because it isn’t a traditional “place to play” but it’s so very worth all the benefits and more. Creating interests early lead to lifelong skills and lifelong interest in healthy eating and connection with family and self care. Start with what you know they can do; pour from a cup, stir with a spoon, use a butter knife to spread peanut butter on toast, and then build their skills from there as they watch and learn from you. Although it’s tricky to hand over the process now when they are so young, these are the stepping stones for increased responsibility and self confidence (read more about that here), those skills that are critical long after the moments of wiping up spilled flour on the kitchen floor.

 

I’d love to know what you think of the Learning Passport and what amazing recipes your family creates with the passport inspiration!

 

 

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She...

read more

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Summer Days with Kids Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do,...

read more

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start? Picture it - one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the...

read more
The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start?

Picture it – one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking away at the chores that never get done, answering to the calls of “Mommy” on repeat while attempting to keep the smile on your face believable. Then something bigger happens, maybe a skinned knee or a tired toddler begging for another episode of Paw Patrol, a missing teddy, or lost homework, and your heart just pounds. Running off to the bathroom for a quick pee leads to banging on the door from a search party noticing you have personal space, and you look in the mirror and see it. You are exhausted and that top knot from yesterday isn’t fooling anyone. You. Need. A. Minute.

Keep reading for The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

 

The Best Tip for the Overwhelmed Mommy. This mom thing is hard work and sometimes can feel isolating and exhausting on top of the incredible feelings of warmth and love. Here I share an amazing tip for getting through the tough days when you can't take "me time" and a freebie download to help empower you to start the day off right! Booksbeesandabcs.com #overwhelmedmom #tipformomsuccess #momguilt #mommymantra

A Brilliant Idea For “Alone Time”

When I was a teacher in my 20’s, I had more energy then I can even imagine now. Where did that all go? I would pay a small fortune to have a bottle of that energy now. I bounced into the room with the optimism of the Blue Fairy, seeing everyone’s hopes and dreams come true all around me, watching these little beings transform over the school year. I loved it!

Every now and then I would have a special guest come into the class to share a story or teach the children something exciting, or even to put on a show. It was great. The idea was that the kids could hear a different voice for a few minutes and I could run to the bathroom or mark a few assignments. But you know what? I never wanted to miss a moment. I often stayed in the room to observe and work quietly in the corner, soaking in the joy and excitement the children felt. To be respectful of the guest to our class, and to allow for me to be efficient in my “free time” I came up with a brilliant idea. I crowned myself “Queen Invisible”. While I had my crown on the children “couldn’t see me, hear me or talk to me” unless it was an emergency of course. With the crown on, I wasn’t in the room to them. This took a few attempt to get used to but it worked brilliantly. Whenever I dawned the crown I was invisible.

What Mom Life Really Looks Like

That little vision above, with the running late and the banging on the bathroom door, that’s pretty much my reality. And I know I’m not alone there; hiding in the bathroom for a moment of peace. I think I actually hid a donut under my shirt, went to the bathroom and then ate it in silence in there earlier this week. That’s not true. I KNOW I did that. I. Needed. A. Minute.

Inspiration for Greatness from the Strangest Places

I was sitting on the side of the tub, eating this fantastic donut when I looked on the floor to find a discarded and dirty princess dress. We had been playing in the yard, making dough (click here for amazing outdoor play ideas), while dressed as princesses, because why not? We had come inside to clean hands and change clothes and the princess dress hadn’t yet found it’s way to be laundered… oh great, another thing for my to-do list today… and it hit me! I could be Queen!

Real Life Mom Hustle

Wiping the crumbs from my face, looking in the mirror at my top knot gone wild, yesterday’s mascara and who knows what day’s shirt, I thought, “This is perfect! I am Queen!” A former version of myself might have thought a few negative phrases about what I saw in my reflection, but not this girl. I’ve been working on my self talk (freebie below) and getting my priorities straight… hard to imagine when moments before I was inhaling a donut, but small steps to success still make the journey, and I was on my way to royalty!

After all signs of the donut were gone, I burst out of the bathroom (my hiding place, choosing to look beyond the irony of the whole “throne” bit) I strutted myself over to our dramatic play area and dug out a crown. I didn’t need a ceremony, this moment was perfect. Crown now on my head, I walked over to my chair and sat down.

There’s Something Different About Mommy

This was the sign to my daughter that something was up. I never sit down. In a chair. I sit on the floor crosslegged with her, I sit on the side of the tub while she sings on the potty, I sit in the grass and become a human bubble machine. I sit on the carpet and read stories on demand, sing songs, count and create all day long. But I rarely sit on a chair. Things were about to change.

“Mommy?” My first thought – she busted me. There could be chocolate crumbs on my shirt. No, it’s the crown. And the sitting. It’s all good.

“You’re playing princess?” I take off the crown and hold it on my lap.

“No honey, I am the Queen. When I wear the crown I become Queen Invisible and no one can see me.”

Silence. And staring.

“Sometimes Mommies need a minute to just be the Queen and do nothing else. When I am Queen Invisible I love you and am here and listening, watching for if you need me, but you can’t see me listing and watching because I am invisible. If there is an emergency, I can stop being the Queen, but for the next few minutes, I’m going to put this crown on my head and you won’t be able to hear me or see me, okay?”

“Okay.” I put the crown on.

“Mommy?!”

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

63 Amazing Outdoor Messy Play Ideas for Your Children to Enjoy

Progress, Not Perfection

I do this for two minutes, which feels like an hour to both of us. The next day, I did it for 5, and then yesterday I did it for 10 minutes. I didn’t really need the minutes the second and third day but I wanted to see if I could make this work as easily as I did with my class years before. It was harder now. My heart was in a different place. I loved my entire class so much but there’s something different about your own children looking up at you with those eyes…

Each day I tried this I started by sitting down with the crown and explaining what I had the first time. At one point or another I did get questions, poked and prodded, pulled on and hugged (the toughest of them all). And each time (unless there were tears nearing) I smiled and continued to sit with my crown on. After the time was up I would take it off and repeat my explanation. Today – Day 4. Magic. I went through my explanation and reminded Little Bee that I loved her even when I was invisible. That I was able to become visible again if she needed me but that during this time, and she could play on her own until I took off my crown. And it worked!

Taking Charge of Body, Time and Worth as Mommy

I will do this again for the next few days, and then lengthen out the time between doing it longer and longer until I’m only doing it when I need or want to, no matter how frequent or infrequent this may be. For now, I am using this as my time to drink my coffee, warm as it was designed to be enjoyed, in my chair with my entire body to myself. Shocker of a revelation: coffee is so much better when it’s hot and fresh. Warming it up in the microwave four times each day does not make it better. I’m worth a hot cup of coffee.

Taking on Mom Guilt

 

Being a mom is a tough gig. Some days more than others. But it’s okay to take a few minutes of alone time to refocus and just be you again. Explaining this to our little ones, why it is important to you, also sends them the message as to why their own space is important to them (I talk about consent in this post). Having these moments helps me mother better and allows me to watch my child play without being distracted by something else. Making a habit of doing this now and then reminds both my daughter and myself that we are worth the time to stop and just be “invisible” when we choose to, while being fully there. More importantly, we can choose to be Queen, to take control of the situation and to express needs without shame or guilt.

 

Learning Through Play As Mommy – Why “Me Time” Is Important

 

I don’t need to pretend to play this game with Little Bee. I made a decision to be a mother and to do it as well as I can everyday. Some days I do this with pride and would shout from the rooftops of all the amazing things we did. Other days I feel I just couldn’t be the mother I dreamed I would be, serving chicken fingers and goldfish crackers and raisins from a tiny box to make it through. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a great mom that day – she was fed, loved and avoided most injuries. That’s what Band-Aids are for, right?! Being a mom is a lot of routine, but it’s also a lot of challenge in keeping up with the constant changes our amazing children throw at us. What is important is that I do my best in that day. We read, we sing, we dance, and usually she takes the lead in the game. But I can design the play too. Play doesn’t have to stop because we have “grown up” and we are Moms. It’s just as important now as ever; learning through play never stops.

 

Lessons for Both of Us

 

When I play Invisible Queen, both Little Bee and I are learning so much and sitting in my chair, drinking my hot coffee, crown on my head, watching my daughter play quietly, isn’t a bad way to start the day – it’s way better than on the side of the tub with the donut. It’s a great message for the both of us. I’m worth the time, and so is she. I’m the Queen and she is my Princess. We both deserve the best we can both give to each day, within each day. Sometimes that means just making it through and other days it means magical moments. No matter what day we are having, we both deserve to be appreciated, noticed, and given what we need. We both deserve to play.

 

What do you do when you need to step away from being “Mom” for a moment – I’d love to hear how you take your “Me Time” when you can’t quite get away?

Mommy Mantra Printable

Being a Mommy is tough sometimes and the self talk we express to ourselves each day is so important! I created this printable for you to print out and post somewhere that you will see it and say it to yourself daily!

You’ve got this, Momma!

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She...

read more

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Summer Days with Kids Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do,...

read more

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start? Picture it - one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the benefits and learning outcomes of creating these opportunities for our little ones. In this post you will find:

  • 63 amazing ideas for messy play

  • The benefits of messy play and sensory play

  • Our favourite messy play activity

  • Two awesome freebie printables for you to download!

  • A homemade finger paint recipe

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

But first let’s start with what messy play is all about!

I am a tidy person for the most part and I love organization, but having a child with the wind as her guide and a business that I’m so passionate about, leaves little time to clean and organize the way I once would have. Plus, who wants to be scrubbing dishes when the rest of the family is running around in the yard? In welcoming all types of play, I want my daughter to investigate the world in whatever way she likes, chase her passions and part of that means letting her make a mess. Taking all of this outside let’s us both walk away with a win (read more about the benefits of outdoor play here). She’s getting the benefit of playing in the fresh air, getting to play with messy and wonderful methods of play, and I can use the hose to clean it all up at the end!

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome
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What are Sensory and Messy Play and Why Do These Activities with My Child?

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

What is Messy Play?

Messy play is play with no set outcome, using materials that can be manipulated and changed that evoke the use of children’s senses while working their hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, life skills such as pouring, mixing and measuring, and essentially ends up with a happy child and a great big mess (although not always)! There are so many types of messy play and materials you can use. I’ll list a few further on in this post.

It can be intimidating to take on messy play in our homes when our days are already filled with so many tasks, taking on a great big mess in the middle of our living rooms can be daunting. But there are so many benefits of having our children dive into this type of play.

What is Sensory Play?

Sensory play is often a goal in providing messy play that is well known in the early childhood education world. It provide experiences and opportunities that make a meaningful contribution to a child’s cognitive and creative development as well as so much more. We all use our senses in more ways than we can understand, to make our way through our day to day but more so in young children who are making sense of their work, through touching everything in sight, putting everything in their mouths, smelling things we can’t imagine smelling, watching and searching out information in all they see around them, listening to every word (yes, they can hear everything and often repeat it!) they hear, and moving in such a way that they involve themselves with their surroundings; climbing, crawling, jumping, rolling, sliding, dancing, twirling. This is all sensory learning through play.

In creating opportunities for children to apply what they are naturally drawn to do, we are allowing them to develop parts of their brain that sitting back and “watching” or “listening” as you would imagine in traditional educational environments simply can’t provide. We are giving them the opportunity to learn more about their world while using their 7 senses.

What are our 7 senses?

We are so familiar with our five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch

But it turns out there are actual 7 senses in play, the two additional are: Vestibular and Proprioception

Sight – the ability of the eyes to focus and detect images of light and translate the message to the brain about colors, hues, and brightness.

Smell – the ability to detect odour molecules which send messages to our brain based on how mild or strong the information is.

Taste – the ability to gather information from food and some minerals through our taste buds and send the message of sweet, bitter, salty, sour and savoury to our brain.

Hearing – the ability to translate sound from changes in the air, or vibration and pass that information to the brain to recognize and interpret.

Touch – the ability to take variations in pressure, usually on the skin using hair follicles and tell the brain of the message and where on the body this sensation is felt.

Vestibular – has to do with balance and telling our brain when our body is in motion and when it needs support from other senses to stay stable (example: walking on an uneven or slippery surface)

Proprioception – is about the overall placement of our bodies, where our arms and legs are and what they are up to, and if they are able to do what the brain is asking of them next. (example; jumping from a rock and landing on our feet knowing our feet will be there to land on or clapping our hands with our eyes closed).

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

The Benefits of Messy Play and Sensory Play to Child Development

  1. complete more complex tasks through practice of life skills
  2. enhances cognitive development
  3. enhances language development
  4. stimulating the senses
  5. gross motor development
  6. fine motor development
  7. practice using tools (shovels, paint brushes, tweezers, spoons, cups, etc.)
  8. supports independence
  9. enhances memory
  10. conflict resolution
  11. problem solving skills
  12. decision making
  13. concentration
  14. patience
  15. STEAM learning
  16. unique experience each time
  17. freedom to learn with no set outcome
  18. planning ahead
  19. responsibility and care for materials
  20. can be done anywhere, anytime with any materials (list provided below)
  21. relaxing and soothing
  22. meaningful interactions with friends and family
  23. boost confidence in mastering skills such as pouring or measuring
  24. learning shapes, sizes, patterns size, shape, height, weight, counting, grouping, buoyancy and volume
  25. learning about cause and effect
  26. learning about literacy
  27. hand-eye coordination
  28. it’s fun!
  29. develop imagination, curiosity, and creativity
  30. investigation and testing theories
  31. incredible tactile experience
Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

63 Amazing Outdoor Messy Play Ideas for Your Children to Enjoy

Bug Hunt and Collection for Investigation
Build a bird feeder or bird house
Building and Decorating Cardboard Boxes
Camping Fun (super cute ideas here)
Chalk Painting
Collage Creating
Colored Rice
Cooked Noodles Play
Cooking Adventures – let them cook up a family favourite or be adventurous like this kimchi recipe or this homemade butter!
Digging for Dinosaur Bones (This is a cute activity about finding dinosaurs in the ice!)
Dry Pasta Play
Finger Paint
Flour Fights
Garden Play
Giant Canvas Painting
Glitter Activities
Grass and Mud Soup
Ice and Snow Painting
Jello Bins
Jelly Balls
Large Scale Construction
Learning About Food Coloring (Dying Carnations Experiment)
Learning How to Use Liquid Glue
Make Giant Bubbles
Making “Dough” – Letting the Child Take the Lead.
Making Music with Homemade Instruments (and learn how children around the world make music!)
Marble Painting
Modelling Clay
Move Indoor Toys Outside
Move Pillows and Blankets Outside
Mud Kitchen (and learn about different feasts around the world for inspiration of what to create in your mud kitchen!)
Nature Inspired Painting (clouds, flowers, trees)
Oat or Dry Cereal Play
Outdoor Bath
Paint Balloons
Painting with Feet
Pasta Jewelry
Picnic
Play Dough
Play in the Leaves (fall)
Playing is Messy Weather (rain and snow)
Playing with Beans
Potato Flakes
Put on a Play (with beautiful set creation)
Rock Collecting
Rock Painting
Sensory Bins
Shaving Cream
Shower in the Rain
Slime
Soapy Water (or better yet, make this elephant toothpaste! So fun!!)
Sports Play (while learning about the sports children around the world play!)
Sprinkler Fun
Stamp Painting with Nature Items
Stamp Painting with Potatoes
Take Messy Meals Outside to Let Your Child Enjoy with the Freedom of Allowing the Mess to Happen.
Tea Party
Turkey Baster Painting
Washing Station
Water Balloons
Water Painting
Water Play
Working with Tools (with adult support)

Invite the Scientist

Exploration Through Painting – Our Favourite Outdoor Messy Play and Sensory Learning

We love painting outside. Little Bee loves to make a giant mess on craft paper wrapped around our big oak tree, painting rocks, or logs, making prints with leaves and grass, but most of all she loves to mix and pour the paint, learn about it through hands on play. 

STEAM learning allows our little ones to create their own colours, mixtures, art pieces through investigation and testing their own theories. What started out as everything ending up brown, my daughter has been learning to mix colours in such a way that she can now create the combinations she wants from primary colours, and add texture when she decides to do so. She is learning hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, life skills such as pouring, mixing and measuring, to name just a few. The most important and meaningful benefit to today – she’s having a wonderful time!

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

The Amazing Benefits of Painting with Your Child

  1. Allowing an artist to form and discover their creativity.
  2. Allows children to express their feelings by discussing their creation.
  3. Learning the science of the materials they are using. How each works, the effect and impact of each type of tool or canvas, different types of paint. Chemistry, and physics all wound into one simple activity.
  4. Never the same activity twice. Even in the most simple form, with paper and paint using fingers to create, the picture will be something unique each time.
  5. Given the freedom to create, children are able to take control of the activity and make it whatever they wish. It’s entirely up to them and they can allow the experience to guide and direct them.
  6. There are so many ways to use painting to build sensory experience and move those muscles, both fine motor in holding the painting tools, to large motor in moving one’s body to create the picture.
  7. Decision making – colours, materials, design and critical thinking
  8. Supports Independence
  9. Cleaning and Care for Materials
  10. The materials you can use are endless (list shared below)
  11. Relaxing and Soothing
  12. Meaningful Interactions with Friends and Family
  13. Accomplish a Goal – Ending the Activity with a Final Product
  14. Enhanced Concentration
  15. Appreciating the Arts
  16. Create Gifts for Others – Spreading the Joy
  17. Boost Confidence in Mastering a Skill
  18. Learning Shapes, Sizes and Patters – Introductory Numeracy!
  19. Learning About Colour Mixing
  20. Hand-Eye Coordination
  21. It’s Fun!
  22. Engaging the Senses
  23. Develop Imagination, Curiosity, and Creativity
  24. Investigation and Testing Theories
  25. Learn About Beauty, in Nature (inspiration) in the Tools and Supplies (such as our beautiful things bin) and in Creation (what is made in the process and final product)
  26. Cognitive Development (both sides of the brain are used in creative and emotional application as well as logic and step by step process application)
  27. Language Development – using descriptive language to explain what you are doing and asking the same of the child, explain what they have created, what materials, what colours, how many colours, shapes, sizes, widths, designs, what have they used as inspiration, why did they choose it – get them talking, describing and building their vocabulary.
  28. Enhanced Practical Skills: pouring, wiping, cleaning, counting, organizing, to name a few

Bonus Benefit to Painting with Your Little One

It can be inexpensive! You can create you own paint or use inexpensive paint you purchase –  you can create you own brushes using nature’s supplies or use non at all (finger painting), use can use paper, or natures canvases all around (rocks and leaves). This is an activity that is accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere!

HOMEMADE FINGER PAINT RECIPE:

(requires stove)

•2 cups flour

•2 tsp salt

•2 1/2 cups cold water

•2 cups hot water

food colouring

Have your little one mix the dry ingredients while you add the cold water. Mix until smooth (or if you are using a mixer, you can take over to move this process along). Add the hot water and place on the stove to boil stir until it becomes clear and smooth. Add your food colouring to the mixture or split into many bowls to create multiple colours.

The Best Painting Supplies for Your Child

If you aren’t feeling quite ready for messy painting –

we love this mess free paint for when we are somewhere we don’t want to make a big mess,

such as Little Bee’s Grandparent’s house

– thanks so much Amanda, Avery and Max for introducing this to us!

Download Your Freebie Here!

This amazing type of play sets the foundation for those basic concepts that from afar may look like “mess making” but when you get a better understanding you come to find that in fact they are building important core skills that will take them into adulthood, they are investigating and practicing and becoming who they have the potential to be. Cleaning up a bit of rice after knowing this, is so small when you are setting the stage for someone amazing to become someone amazing. 

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

Favorite Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today, while enjoying the incredible summer sunshine, Little Bee and I were playing with ice on the driveway. Although a seemingly simple activity we were actually talking through very complex science in addition to everything else we were learning. For her, talking...

read more

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist

Preparing Your Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist I recently took Little Bee to the dentist for the first time. It had been one of those things I just never had the time for when we were busy running the daycare and I felt awful for not having gone sooner. She...

read more

Making the Most of Summer with Routine and Planning

Summer Days with Kids Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that...

read more

Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters

Another Mealtime Misery Here we go again. It’s nearly suppertime and I have no idea what I’m going to make. Just another decision for poor ‘ole mom to make in her million decisions a day. What difference though right? No one eats what I make anyway, or if they do,...

read more

The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy

How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start? Picture it - one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking...

read more

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the...

read more

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