Thursday, September 11, 2014

What I Love Lately: Preschooler Edition

I have a few products and activites that have helped us get through a rough summer and I thought I would share them with you.

Grace is 3 years old and Sophia is 1 year and 11 months old (almost 2!)

Food: Frozen Fruit, specifically, frozen blueberries or grapes. It's HOT here and I love anything that is cool to help them chill out after a hot car ride. The blueberries are very messy though and can stain clothing, so they usually eat these without their shirts and with bibs (skin will get stained as well.)

TV Show: We've watched far too much TV this summer, but I'm okay with it because we've found some fabulous shows that they learn from, interact with, and talk about all the time! We love:

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood- A spin off of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but updated and animated for this generation, this show addresses so many social and emotional issues that little toddlers and preschoolers are bombarded with. Sharing, frustration, being too small to do certain things, or being sick and needing rest, plus many more. They all incorporate catchy tunes that your child will remember when in similar situations. I've caught Grace singing "When you're feeling frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help!" many times. And Sophia growls like a tiger whenever she wants this show. Ha. We get our episodes off of iTunes on our Apple TV and love them! Grace also loves the clips of real kids doing something that is connected with the episode after each short 11-13 minute episode. Free on Amazon Prime

Wonder Pets- Put out by Nick Jr. many years ago, this was a show that I remembered from my nannying days. Cute classroom pets go on adventures to safe animals in perilous situations. Exposing them to a huge variety of animals, a large vocabulary (Grace knows what Sumiya is- a Japanese style of painting, from this show,) problem solving, cute songs, and is safe for even the littlest viewers (no villains!) We loved finding episodes about animals we had read about or about places we were going- like finding a Greece episode set at the Parthenon! Free on Amazon Prime

Music: Elizabeth Mitchell. This folksy singer is putting out music as part of the Smithsonian's attempt to preserve American folk music and reinvent the music for a young generation. I love so many of these songs, and those that are new to me are catchy and fun. We often listen to it while the girls are taking a bath- it helps control the chaos and loudness that they often fall into. They know the songs by heart and Grace can be heard singing them by herself sometimes. They may be raised far from the shores of the USA but we want to help them understand their heritage and past and music is one of the easiest way for them to learn about that right now. Can be found here or on iTunes

Books: We don't have libraries here and our city has very few book stores. So, what we have on our shelves is often all we have. Though we have a great collection of books and it grows with every holiday or birthday, it can get old reading the same books so often, as I think we get through our entire collection every day or two. I have an amazing friend here that used to be a preschool/kindergarten teacher here and she has an awesome collection of books that she has let me borrow from each week this summer. Sort of like our own personal library! I kept these books in a canvas bag out of reach of the kids and brought them down only when I was reading with them or in their room, to ensure that they were well cared for. Three of our favorite books this summer were:

Aaaarrrgghh! Spider!, Walking through the Jungle, and Pinkalicious

Toys: I didn't grow up with them, so I will admit, I am a novice and not very creative with them, but Lego Duplo's are a huge hit in our house. Sophia likes moving them around and knocking things down but can not quite put them together yet. Grace loves building and inventing and has a very specific idea in her head when she starts creating. I'm excited to grow our collection some this Christmas and even more excited for when Grace moves up to regular, small sized Legos, as I think it will open up so many doors for her creativity! Ian is amazing at playing, building, and creating with them so I often save this as a "when Daddy gets home, guess what you can do!" activity. We do have a rule to keep them on our carpet in our family room so that the noise isn't unbearable when they clatter out onto the tile.

Baby dolls and accessories also a big hit with both girls and when I am needing a little relief and mommy time is when I send them upstairs to be little mommies. We have a stroller and baby crib that gets used every day and most times their toy baskets are dumped out and makeshift beds are made for the extra baby dolls. My beloved American Girl Bitty Baby gets played with every day and I am getting closer and closer to telling my parents they can get the girls their own. But first I want them to be able to dress the dolls themselves. Because they bring them to me all day long asking for a wardrobe change and it just drives me crazy.

Activities: Bathtime is made more fun and lengthened by the addition of bath crayons, music, story time in the bath, or even water color paints (check them on your grouting though first and make sure it comes off!) Cooking is a crowd pleaser with our girls as they both get stools to help from and can do many of the basic tasks like pouring, stirring, and cracking eggs. Grace loves playing I Spy and both girls love a good dance party, especially to Frozen music. Coloring is becoming more loved with dot markers, crayons, or markers. Puzzles are fun as well, and Grace can do a 24 piece while Sophia is still working on a 3-4 piece cut out shapes puzzle.

Outings: We live in a mall oriented culture out here. Seriously. Everything is in a mall. Almost nothing is free standing. Grocery stores, pharmacies, movie theaters, restaurants, banks, and even medical facilities are all located in a mall. Most of the time we go to a mall to get out, even though we aren't doing much shopping. For awhile the girls were getting a treat every time we went out or went to the grocery store but I've tried to cut back on that because now they expect it! Our malls are massive, with wide walk ways, indoor playgrounds (and theme parks!) and places for the kids to move. They can even bring scooters or push cars in if they want, but I'm waiting until our kids are a little older and can understand respecting other people's toes and personal space.

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