Shape Activities for Toddlers Using Our Learning Tubs

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Learning Tub Series

Next up in our Learning Tub Series is a look inside our Shape Tub. If you missed the others posts thus far, you can get a look inside our Alphabet Tub here and our Animal Tub here. Also, I have written about shape activities a couple of times in the past, but many of those are larger activities that don’t necessarily go in our Learning Tubs; however they are super fun for little ones!  You can check out those fun shape activities here and here. We could spend a whole day just talking about shapes around here!

Sidenote

Sidenote: Can you just take a minute to celebrate with me that BOTH of my boys are playing independently right now?? And they’re happy doing it. That NEVER happens. They always want momma right there with them. If I get more than three feet away from my two year old, he always asks, “Momma, where are you gooooinnng?” Insert why I need Jesus and wine many days.  Love them fiercely, but wear and tear y’all.

Want to know how I achieved this? I simply emptied their toy baskets on the floor and let them go. They have all of these toys and never play with the majority of them. Sure, I have a GIANT mess to clean up, but they’re happy, and I’m getting things accomplished. Sometimes, the mess is worth it. Instead of feeling guilty about this, I’m going to remind myself that them learning to play independently is an important skill.

Shapes are Fun

Shapes are fun because you can see them everywhere! To help your little ones learn about shapes, you can simply go on a Shapes Hunt around your house. I use to do this when I taught first grade. It’s really fun when they get to be about six, as they’ll start learning about 3D shapes, and as you know, there are many 3D shapes around us; however, if you have toddlers like me, you can simply look for those flat, 2D shapes.

A Look Inside our Shape Tub

I am all about simple, easy activities that allow me to teach my child an important skill. Let’s face it, I don’t have the time (a one year old an a two year old) or energy to create anything too fancy. I am also all about using what you have at home. It’s not easy to put everyone in the car just to buy one material to create an activity that will probably be eaten or destroyed at some point. As always, should my kiddos master what’s inside the Shape Tub, or simply need something new to engage in, I can rotate the activities inside them to spice it up a bit. I never thought I’d being saying “spice it up a bit” in regards to shapes… my how life changes when you enter the kid phase of life. Without further ado, here is a look inside what we have in our Shape Tub right now:

  1. Books – If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know I try to always start activities with books that relate. It’s the teacher in me. Literacy is sooo important, and I want my boys to love books like me. I actually don’t have many shape specific books, but that’s ok because there are many books that don’t necessarily pertain to shapes but have illustrations that provide great shape practice.These are the books currently in our Shape Tub: Brainy Baby Shapes and Colors (Use this link and this book is only 25 cents right now! Added bonus you can work on colors too!), Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses (This is not a shape book, but on just one page alone, I found ovals, rectangles, a pentagon and a circle. Not to mention, I LOVE  Pete the Cat books!), and Little Dino’s Egg. The last book is not a shape specific book either, but it is one of James’ favorites right now, and as you can see by the picture below, it has lots of shapes you can talk about in the illustrations! If you use that link for this book its less that $1.50, which is a STEAL! Such a cool book.
  2. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks – My boys love these blocks, and they teach so many skills besides just shapes. They help with fine motor skills, they help teach kids how to sort, and they’re different colors, so you can work on not only shapes, but colors as well! We also have used this blocks to make shapes out of play dough in the past. I would use play dough more if my boys would decide to stop eating it.
  3. Craft Stick  Shapes – All you need for this activity is some craft sticks (I like the jumbo size) and some velcro (I like the precut round velcro – less work for me). I simply put the velcro dots on the ends of the craft sticks, and James puts the sticks together in various shapes. Clearly, we can’t make a circle or an oval, but we can make squares, rectangles, rhombuses, pentagons, trapezoids, etc. The trick here is to make sure you have the correct velcro pieces on the sticks to make sure they can match up to form a shape. I suggest preparing by making one shape at a time yourself so you can make sure they can be put together as a shape. You can then keep the pieces sorted in baggies to make it easier. If you get the colored craft sticks, this would make the process easier, as you can know all the blue sticks make a square for example.
  4. Sweet Shapes – Again, another activity in which you only need two materials – toothpicks and marshmallows. Depending on the level of your child, you can either build shapes yourself out of the toothpicks and marshmallows and have your child identify the shapes, or you can have your child create the shapes themselves. You can even start off doing it and showing them and then make they would be ready to do this themselves. Added bonus: they get a yummy snack along the way. Simply use the marshmallows at the corners of the shapes to connect the toothpicks together. The toothpicks will act as the lines of the shapes. Go over shape corners and lines as well as an extra lesson with learning shapes.
  5. Shape Sorting – The last thing in our Shape Tub is an activity that I found on Pinterest here. The materials I needed: sharpie, construction paper, card stock, and glue. We started off doing simple shapes like a circle, triangle, and square, but as your child learns more, you can do the same activity with more difficult shapes. Again, discuss lines and corners or how circles and ovals have neither. This was fun and allowed James to practice gluing which was great fine motor skill practice.

As Always

As always, I hope you enjoy! What shape activities are you doing with your little ones?

Runaway + Noah’s Ark

It’s too Quiet

It’s quiet in my house, and I don’t even know what to do with myself. Two mornings in a row where it is so quiet I could hear a pen drop. I’m not battling naptime, terrible two tantrums, 15 month old frustrations (this is new!), or sibling fighting. Oh, and did I mention my house is clean? I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. But really, it’s too quiet, and I don’t know how to act. Yesterday when it was this quiet, I text Chad telling him I didn’t know what to do, so I started cleaning the windows. Why would I spend my quiet time like that? It makes me a little appreciative of all of my #jesusandwine moments, but then I remember the moments, and I’m ok with the quiet.

Let me just tell you a recent one to make you feel better about your parenting and to remind you that I’m holding on to my Mom of the Year title, so you can’t have it.

Mail Time

One thing James has loved since we’ve moved to Houston is getting the mail. Our mailman, Mr. Jason, brings the mail to the door every day with a smile on his face, and makes my boys feel oh so special. We love Mr. Jason! I love it too because selfishly, Mr. Jason is my only interaction with another adult until Chad gets home. James watches out the window in the afternoons to see if he is here yet so he can go outside and get the mail. Mr. Jason always gives them a high five and comes back two or three times on the days James asks for “one more”.

Well, the other day, Mr. Jason came to deliver the mail. I was holding Weston, the kid is HEAVY, and James was refusing to take the mail that day. Who knows the reasoning in that child’s head as to why he wouldn’t take it. While I’m taking the mail, Mr. Jason says, “uh oh”. James had run halfway down the street, on the sidewalk thankfully, and had no intentions of stopping. He does this from time to time. Run away. That’s why we only play in the front yard when we get the mail.

I sat Weston down in the grass, one time I’m thankful he still refuses to regularly walk, and ran to get my runaway child. Might I add, James is looking back and laughing at me like it’s all some fun game. I yank him up, walk back to the house where I left my other child sitting in the grass with the mailman, and try to parent in public which we all know looks quiet different than parenting in private. I know Mr. Jason thought I was crazy since I plopped my child down in front of him and chased after the one that I didn’t even know was running away until he mentioned it. JESUS.AND.WINE

In the Midst

In the midst of all our craziness, I am still trying to get in some devotion time with the boys, even though I’m falling a little short in this area lately, but hey, it’s real life, and this happens.

We did get to finish a fun one yesterday that I wanted to share with you! We started by reading the story of Noah’s Ark from this sweet book. My boys love this book because they get to lift all the flaps, but they still don’t quiet understand the word “easy”, so needless to say, not all of the flaps are still in tact. Surprise, surprise.

Don’t’ Forget to Discuss

Don’t forget to discuss the story with your child. Even if you think they don’t understand it, they’re taking in some of what you say. I would ask James questions and explain the story to him in toddler words, and in his sweet little voice, he would say “yeah!” We’re still working on a consistent “yes ma’am” around here.

Once we finished reading the story, we sang this song on the Apple TV. I love me some Apple TV. YouTube and Netflix at my fingertips. A reason in the pro column for technology.

The Project

After our music time, we began our craft. I cut a paper plate in half. The top of the paper plate would be the rainbow, and the bottom of the plate would be the ark. James colored the bottom piece brown with crayon. You could use marker or paint for this as well, but we all know my kids aren’t trustworthy enough for all that.

We then painted the rainbow (top half of the plate) with our beloved DO-A-DOT art paint. I started the colors for James and helped him place them in line. You can see where he got a little happy with the dots in some places and didn’t want to go in line, but I think that makes it all the better, as it shows a two year old did it.

Once both halves of the plate were finished, I glued the rainbow portion to the top of a blue piece of construction paper, and the ark portion of the plate to the bottom of the construction paper. Each piece of the plate will hang over the edges a little bit so that the animals can fit between the rainbow and the ark.

After the plate halves were glued down, we glued cotton balls to the ends of the rainbow. James liked this part. I would put a dot of glue on the paper, and then he would put the cotton balls on the glue.

Now, it was time for the animals, however, Mom of the Year over here didn’t have what she needed to finish the project, so I jumped on Amazon and ordered these animal foam stickers. My mistake: telling James we had animals to put in the ark. This was a mistake because every day until the animals came in the mail, he asked about them. One day, he seriously asked me every thirty minutes. He wouldn’t even nap that day because every time I went in his room to tell him to lay down, he asked me if the animals were here yet. Never again will I tell him something is coming in the mail until Mr. Jason puts it in the child’s hands.

So a couple of days later, when the animals finally made their long awaited arrival, it was time to finish our project. By this point, daddy was home mowing the grass and that became much more interesting than the animals he had been asking for two whole days, so Weston got to finish the project by sticking the animals between the rainbow and the ark which made it look like the animals were in the ark.

The Results

Overall, this was an easy and quick craft to do with your little one, and I thought it turned out pretty cute for a two year old. As always, use what you have and what works for your child. You could make the rainbow out of Froot Loops, paint, Skittles, pom pom balls, etc., and you could use these or these for the animals. I hope y’all enjoy this fun craft and devotion!

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

Big boy bed, here we come!

Last week, it was time for James to take a nap. He got very mad at me, shocker. Remember those TERRORble two’s I was discussing in my previous post? I can’t even remember why he was mad, as that’s a norm around here. He wouldn’t calm down. He wouldn’t let me rock him or rub his back, He just screamed. I decided to leave him in his crib to calm down and knew I’d go back in there a few minutes, and he would probably be a little more reasonable.

Well, I never got that chance. Within a minute or two, I heard a door open. Since Weston was asleep, nor can he walk, and my mom was sitting on the couch, I knew it was James. But how?! I had just put him in his bed. I know I’m going crazy and have mommy brain ALL THE TIME, but I’m not that bad, right? I seriously looked back at the baby monitor to make sure I put that kid in his bed. Yep, sure did. He was so angry he climbed out of his crib (shocked we made it this long before it happened! – almost two and a half), and he opened the door and said, “momma!” Oh lawd. Here we go. Just when you think you’re figuring it all out, you have to go and transition to a toddler bed.

Don’t Fight Those Instincts

After this fun little #jesusandwine moment, Chad and I decided it was probably time for a big boy bed. So while my mom and I took the boys to see her family for the weekend, Chad was going to convert the crib to a toddler bed. I was second guessing our choice since he only climbed out that day (once at nap and once at bedtime) while he was mad, again a shocker I know. Well, just remember, don’t second guess those parental instincts. God gave them to you for a reason.

While we were visiting family, the boys slept in pack n plays. James was sleeping in the room with my mom, which had a queen size bed in it. I put him to bed, and he crawled out once and opened the door. I figured he was going to do it again, but it was quiet and he never came out, so I figured he went to sleep. A couple of hours passed, and I went to check on him as we always do before we go to bed. I looked in the pack n play, and he wasn’t there. Where is he?? I knew, again, I had definitely put him in there! It was a dark and unfamiliar room, so I was struggling to see where he was. Found him. That stinker had crawled out and was lying on his back. Arms and legs both spread open, in the queen size bed, dead asleep. THAT KID! Yep, definitely time for a big boy bed.

Let’s Do This

So, we came home on Sunday and Chad had the bed ready to go. We made a super, big deal about it to get him excited (and to hopefully avoid any panic for our child that doesn’t like change), and he was very excited! The first two nights in his bed he did great! But we all know that had to come to an end…

And So It Began…

This whole big boy bed stuff is for the birds. Hear me? FOR. THE. BIRDS. Pretty much every nap time and every bed time I find myself having a #jesusandwine moment.

He jumps. He plays. He kicks the wall. He screams and wakes brother up. He rocks. He reads. He strips. He unplugs things. He throws things. He does EVERYTHING you can imagine except for the one thing he is supposed to do… SLEEP! Help me. No, seriously, help me! Does anyone have suggestions for this brutal transition??

Thankfully, bed time seems to go a little better than nap time. Want to know why? Daddy is usually home. What is it with most children responding better to men than women? It is 100% unfair. He does get out of bed a few times at night and open the door and waltz his little self to the den, but after a few times of having Chad put him back in bed and telling him to lay down, he usually goes to sleep. But nap time? Nope, nope nope. Not happening. In fact, nap time just hasn’t been happening.

Some ask, “Well, do you think he’s just ready to not nap anymore?” Um no. Should we go anywhere after his missed nap time, he immediately falls asleep in the car. Or if nap time is just completely shot, he is such a joy to be around that day – insert eye roll. Even if he were, which I refuse to even think of that day, I wouldn’t allow it. Yeah, I know, just let me be naïve here and have some wishful thinking.

Killing This Mom Thing

Well, after a couple of times falling asleep in the car, I got a bright idea! Weston is asleep while James is supposed to be napping, so I clearly can’t take him for a joy ride, however, I can still put him in the car! He is an incredibly active two year old boy, so getting him to be still is hopeless, which means this is one reason as to why he won’t go to sleep. But when he is strapped in his car seat, get this… he can’t move! Ahhhhh, cue the angels singing voices.

So don’t you know sweet baby James and I took a trip to the car with a cup of milk and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD. Don’t worry, we stayed in the driveway, and I had Weston’s baby monitor with me the whole time. Ten minutes later, the kid is out. Thankfully, he is a pretty heavy sleeper, so I can pick him up and put him in his bed. Can we just discuss how excited I am that today he is at Mother’s Day Out? Call me a bad mom for saying that, but today, I don’t have to battle nap time. All the praise hands!

Now, I know this is not helping my naptime predicament. In fact, it is probably making it much worse. But sometimes, momma needs both kids to nap at the same time in order to maintain some type of sanity and to get anything done around the house. No judgments, please. I know this is the worst solution ever to my problem, but it is what it is for the time being, and I have had three peaceful nap days where I have managed to get a load of laundry finished.

Also, I am a complete advocate for doing what’s best for you and your child, and doing what works for y’all. You have to do you! That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla, orange juice and apple juice. However, I would like to change this weeks’ car routine, so please, comment with your suggestions as to how to transition to a big boy bed. As I’m sure you can relate, I feel like I’ve read it all, and I keep having the same results… #jesusandwine.