Halloween Art

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We have been anxiously getting ready for Halloween around here. I am not a big Halloween person, but it’s fun to see the boys’ excitement. We have done a couple of quick and easy art activities while we wait for the big day.

Fingerprint Spiders

I used a black ink pad for the finger prints. I had a wipe right there so I could quickly clean off black fingers and avoid fingerprints on furniture. I let P stamp his finger on his own (M needed some help). After I showed them how to add 8 legs, I gave them a black pen and let them draw their own.

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Jack-O-Lantern Collages

I precut and gathered supplies for this beforehand. I had 2 options for each part of the Jack o’ Lantern for the boys to choose from. I had to help put the glue on some of the pieces, but I tried to do as little as possible. They are so much better when the kids do everything themselves!

Some of the supplies I had for them to choose from:

PomPoms

Buttons

Googly eyes

Parts precut from a magazine

Dot markers

Pipe Cleaners

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Painting Webs and Spiders

For the spider webs, I took a plastic box and taped a piece of paper to the bottom. Then I squirted white paint all over.

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We put a golf ball in and I let the boys shake it all around. Next time I think I would use a smaller ball/marble.

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Then, I painted the boys’ hands with black paint (other colors didn’t show up) and made overlapping prints for the spider. The boys picked googly eyes to glue on.

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the final product (we sent it to a relative). The picture below is from Happy Hooligans.

Halloween I Spy

This last one is not exactly art, but related. P loves I Spy books. We have I Spy a Skeleton which he loves.

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When I saw this activity, I figured he would love it too. I printed the picture and taped it inside a ziploc bag. A sheet protector would have worked too, but I didn’t have one. Then, I printed another sheet, cut out the pictures and put some double sided tape on the backs. I only cut about 10 at a time because I think that was plenty for P to do. I figure we can cut more when he is interested.

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Protecting your technology

I’ve mentioned before how much my boys love technology. Specifically, the iPad and iPhone. After some random Facebook posts and phone calls to people I don’t regularly call, I learned some tricks to protect my stuff from curious little ones.

  •  I always have the Delete Apps and In-App Purchases buttons off. I can easily change this if I actually need to delete an app.

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  • When I willingly turn over my phone, I turn Airplane Mode on. This prevents most of the problems.

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  • Guided Access

I learned about this with one of the kids I work with. He is non verbal and uses a communication app on his iPad mini. When he was learning how to use it, he would often swipe and not be able to find his way back to the app. Enter, Guided Access. This prevents him from leaving the app and getting off task.

M is at the touch happy age where he touches everything he sees and not necessarily where he wants to be. I can put the Guided Access on when he is in an app and he has to stay there. This prevents frustration on both our parts.

Here are the directions for turning on Guided Access. I set my passcode as 1234 (don’t tell my kids) so that it is easy to remember and quick to turn off/on. All you do is push the home button 3 times, enter your passcode and you can turn off Guided Access.

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  • Use our old phones.

We have upgraded our phones, so my husband and I both have an old iPhone. We decided not to donate or sell them in case our current phones get broken or lost. We can use our old phone if it doesn’t make sense to buy a new one.

Also, we use the apps that don’t require service. I mentioned before that we use the Ambiance app for a sleep machine when we travel. We also still have the kids apps on the phones that they can use without worry.

I recently saw that you can use your old iPhone as iPod touch by switching your SIM card. Haven’t done that, but it may be something I will want to do in the future.

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Family Dinner

We had a rough first year with P. By the time we got to introducing food, we were too worn out to care that much. We just did whatever was easy. Needless to say, this created some bad eating habits.

When M came along, we vowed that things would be different. M is a much better eater. However, I am not skilled at meal planning or cooking, so he ended up eating a lot of the same things that his brother was eating. Or, even worse, I would make 3 different things for each meal.

In the past few months, we have been trying to change the way meals go around here. We are still a long way from perfect, but we have been taking baby steps that have made a big difference!

I wanted to share the baby steps we have taken that have improved our boys’ eating habits. Let me stress, we are far from where I would like to be, but we are making progress.

1. Family Dinner

We used to wait until the boys were in bed to have dinner so that we could actually enjoy it. I have read over and over again how important it is to model good eating habits to your children so this was the first thing we changed. It started as one family dinner night a week. When we first told P we were having family dinner night, he would cry before we would even tell him what we were eating (he knew it wasn’t going to be chicken nuggets and french fries). Now, it’s usually 3 or more family dinner nights a week and the boys love it! P gets disappointed when we don’t eat with him. I think they like the undivided attention from mom and dad.

2.Finding easy/simpler recipes to make

I admire people who started good habits early and their kids are used to eating whatever the adults eat. This just isn’t a reality for us. However, we have had to strike a balance. We tried to make simpler dishes that we can add to or take away from to make them family friendly. We usually make one main dish and add a fruit and vegetable. One or two of those is a familiar/preferred food so that there is at least something on their plate that we know they will eat. Here are some meals that have become regulars around here. Adult beverages not included.😉

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*I think this is a picture of hamburgers, but you get the idea

  • Pasta- we can add more toppings/spices/etc to ours and the boys can have the basic.

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  • Pizza– I make this no knead dough, which makes enough for 6 pizzas, and put it in the freezer so I can just defrost enough for 1 at a time. I do the same with the sauce. The boys LOVE to help make pizza- rolling, spreading the sauce, adding toppings.

Daddy’s chicken (Chicken Milanese)- My sister-in-law gave me the book, Dinner: A Love Story. I also read the blog. Some good practical suggestions. P loves this chicken (it must remind him of chicken nuggets).

3. Expectations

  • Try everything at least once. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it. But, you can’t get more of anything unless you eat everything on your plate (i.e.- if you eat all of your grapes but none of the green beans, no more grapes). There have been many a meal where one of the boys only eats one thing on their plate and nothing else. The good news is, this used to be a battle. Now, they know the drill and will try a bite of everything and be done. It’s amazing that they aren’t starving!
  • No grazing! The boys would eat all day long if they could. This means a few bites here and there and never getting hungry. I read this about spacing meals and snacks 2.5-3 hours apart. This is hard because it seems like the boys start asking when they can eat 5 minutes after they finish eating! When we do follow this rule, the boys are actually hungry and willing to eat more variety.
  • When we go out to eat, anything goes. When we go out to eat, we are there to enjoy ourselves. This means avoiding battles. I am pretty laid back at restaurants. We don’t go out too often, so a meal of chips and pancakes every so often doesn’t worry me.
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Quick Behavior Chart

I have shared our daily coin chart which we use for all positive/negative behaviors on a daily basis. I have been using a modified version of this which I will share another time.

However, there are still some specific/persistent behaviors that I have to address that don’t fall under the day-to-day stuff. For that, I have a quick behavior chart that takes me no time to make and no time to keep up with. I use some modified version of this for all different types of things.

For a while now, we have been dealing with some tummy troubles with P. After many visits/phone calls to the doctor I feel like we are getting things under control. We saw a new GI today (who I would highly recommend to anyone going through these issues!) and he said it would be a good time to get P back on the potty. Right now, we are just trying to get him to sit on the potty for 3 minutes after meals.

I made this quick chart to track his success and hung it right by his potty seat.

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Each time he sits on the potty for 3 minutes, he gets to choose a car sticker to add to the chart. This is his immediate reward.

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Once he sits on the potty 10 times, he earns ice cream (he chose this reward). This is the long-term goal and reward.

There are lots of possibilities for using this chart with other behaviors. Here are just a few ideas:

Staying in bed all night

Using kind words with a sibling/friend

Keeping underwear dry for a specified amount of time

Using words when upset (instead of whining or crying)

Sharing

With these types of behavior charts, I start off with an easily obtainable goal, then work up to something more challenging. For example, you may start with earning a sticker when underwear is dry for 20 min. Once they have done that successfully 10 times, you can change the expectation to staying dry for 1 hour, etc. For sharing, it may be, “Each time you share, you earn a sticker; after 5 stickers you earn your reward. The following chart, you may have to share 10 times to earn the reward”.

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Apps

I made the unfortunate mistake of introducing P to the iPhone at an early age. It can be a great tool, but he would stay on the iPhone or iPad all day if I let him. We started having him earn his iPad time by having good behavior for the day.

I tried not to introduce the iPad and iPhone to M, but it’s almost like he knew how to unlock the screen instinctively. Plus, he has seen his brother get sucked in by it.

Anyway, we have found some apps that provide quality entertainment and/or education that I feel like are a good use of their time. Plus, they are a great distraction when traveling, out to eat or when Mama just needs a break!

For the 1 year old group:

Peekaboo Barn

You touch the barn to open and close the doors which reveal an animal and it’s name and sound.

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Sound Touch

There are several categories to choose from including animals, vehicles, instruments and household items. Each category has animated pictures you can touch to reveal a real life picture and sound of the object.

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Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose

Most of the apps by Duck Duck Moose are great, but this is a favorite for M and seems the most appropriate for his age/skill. It has pictures of the Wheels on the Bus song that you can touch to move objects or make sounds.

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For the 2-4 year old group:

PBS KIDS Video

I have shared our love for PBS and this FREE app is no exception. Clips of all of our favorite shows!

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Toca Band

We also love many of the Toca Boca apps. Toca Band is probably our favorite since the boys are so into music. You choose characters to make a band with different sounds and rhythm.

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Bonus App:

Ambiance

We bought this one when P was little so we didn’t have to drag his sound machine with us when traveling. Now we have the app on an old iPhone so we can plug it in when the boys are napping on trips.

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One Year Old Activities

Recently, I was talking to some friends about entertaining a 1-year-old (or somewhere around that age). I realized I hadn’t covered much of that here on the blog.

Honestly, most of the activities we do are thought of with P in mind. M is happy to do anything his brother does. When P was around 1-year-old, I seemed to spend more time planning, prepping and cleaning up than he spent interested in the activity. M has a similar attention span. 5-10 minutes is pretty typical, but sometimes I can’t even get that.

Here are some things that I have done with the boys.

Sensory bins

I started these around 1.5 years old with P and they were a hit! M started closer to 10 months – 1 year and loved them as well. When he was still putting everything in his mouth, I mostly stuck to the oatmeal sensory bins so that when he ate some oatmeal, it wasn’t a big deal (plus, he quickly learned it didn’t taste very good). Sensory bins tend to entertain my boys for the longer than most other activities.

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Drawing

This is something P started doing around 10 months at daycare otherwise I would have probably waited until he was much older. It is certainly not a skill they need to have at 1-year-old, but it was fun for me to get some “teaching” time in. P mostly learned this at daycare, but I did start this with M around 1 since he had to be doing the same thing his older brother was doing. I would tape a piece of paper to his art table and give him an open marker. In the beginning I had to hold his hand and draw with him. Now he wants to do it all by himself! I just keep reminding him to keep the marker on the paper and redirect him when he tries to draw elsewhere. “Markers stay on the paper!”

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Self feeding

Love this site on self feeding. It is very messy! After starting self feeding with a spoon around 10 months, at 20 months, M still ends up covered in food. There was a point with both of my boys where they refused to let me spoon feed them. I started off with a bowl that had a suction cup to keep it on the highchair. I would put a small amount of yogurt or something they liked in the bowl. I held their hand to give them a feel of the motion and then let them try on their own.

Tops

I just collected different tops anytime we were going to throw them away. The idea is for them to put the tops through the slot on the top of the wipes box. This is still hard for M to do on his own, but he loves moving all of the tops from the wipes box to the other container and back again.

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Pipe Cleaners

I used an empty container of oatmeal and pipe cleaners cut in half for this one. The goal is to put the pipe cleaners through the holes at the top of the oatmeal container and improve fine motor skills. I just remembered that I had this and let M try it out. He is probably the perfect age/skill level for this activity! He was very focused and interested in putting all of the pipe cleaners in the holes. P even wanted to join in.

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The Luckett Boys’ Coffee Shop

I have recently discovered the blog, Happy Hooligans. It has activities that are used at a home daycare. I have decided that I want to be a Hooligan. Every activity they do looks like so much fun!

Every Saturday and Sunday morning, the boys help their dad make coffee. When I saw this post on the Hooligans’ Coffee Shop, I knew we needed to do our own coffee shop.

My sweet mother in law went to the dollar store and mailed us a bunch of coffee shop supplies. She also lent us her milk frother so the boys could make foam for their coffee. I gathered a few other things that we had around the house and we set up shop.

Our Supplies:

  • plastic pitcher
  • spice shakers
  • plastic squirt bottle
  • disposable coffee cups
  • “coffee” (dirt)
  • stir sticks
  • water
  • dish soap
  • milk frother
  • small metal pitcher
  • large jug for water refills
  • food coloring
  • pastries

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I filled the plastic pitcher with water and we used the dirt for coffee.

In the metal pitcher, I added a few squirts of dish soap and some water. The boys used the milk frother in the pitcher to make foamy milk.

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We filled the shakers and squirt bottle with some water and food coloring. The food coloring was not necessary, but, why not!?

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Here was my delicious cafe latte and pastry.

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This had to be one of the most fun activities we have done.  This probably kept the boys entertained for an hour. They have been asking to do a coffee shop every day since.

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