Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toddler Makes Pretend Phone Call

Noah was hilarious talking on his pretend cell phone to his Oma and Opa today. Luckily, I caught some of it on tape!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Things to Do with Toddlers: The Discovery Walk (and other Daycare News)

We have a new activity that the kids really enjoy: the walk around the block. I remember trying this with them last fall, when I had at least two of them walking and holding hands. They weren't ready. Now that all of them are around 2 and a half (give or take a month), they happily and safely walk around the block (with direction, of course!).
Well, three of them walk. These two monkeys prefer the luxury (and extra room) of the wagon. But this isn't because I don't think it's safe for them to be walking. Maya and Lucas are actually old pros at walking quickly and safely, always listening to direction. It is more of a preference thing. They like the wagon, and the other three like to walk. 
We see lots of exciting things on our walks around the block: squirrels, flowers, lawn mowers, whipper snippers, subway station, buses, a mailbox, sprinklers, signs with ABC's on them, and other daycare groups going for walks. Sometimes we stop for a "drive-by" splash or play, and then we continue on our way.
With May being as soggy as it's been, we have been doing a lot of puddle jumping. Maya and Aidas had forgotten their rain boots on this day, but I couldn't keep them out of this alluring puddle. Look at Maya's pants. It's amazing how kids can be disgusting and cute at the same time! Actually, all of them needed at least their pants changed after thoroughly appreciating this puddle.
Oops. Did I say everyone? Noah didn't need a change. He was as clean as a whistle. Yup. As usual, he spent most of his time singing. You can get a sense of his performance in the pictures above. Maybe he realizes that the people in their apartment buildings can see him, and he's looking to get a following. 
Noah's Oma gave him some Barbie magnets my nieces used to play with. You can choose different outfits, shoes and hats to dress Barbie in. We opened the container of them in Noah's room and played a with them for a while in there. Then I told them that they were magnets that could be stuck on the fridge. And that's when the real fun began! Each of the five of them delighted in running down the hallway, with a few magnets in hand, sticking them on the fridge, and then running back to the bedroom to get more. I would have significantly reduced the fun and excitement for them had I offered to bring the bin of magnets directly to the kitchen.
After a while, we decided that we were finished dressing Barbie. We wanted to play dress-up ourselves! Here is Noah, proudly donning a back-pack from the dress-up bin.
Maya showed us that Tiggers are beautiful...
and are able to operate tape recorders.
We went to the playground again last week. It turned out to be such a warm day that we had to take our coats off! We brought our Spider Man backpack of toys and shared them with other children who were playing in the sandbox. We made a tunnel for our cars to go through, and also spent time making sand structures with various sized pails.
We call Lithuania playground the "Wibble Wobble Playground" because of this crazy apparatus. Here, Maya masters it while wearing sunglasses. Way cool!
Aidas and Lucas worked on their hanging skills. Aidas is taking the initial steps to learn how to slide down a pole. He has an unwavering aspiration to be a firefighter one day. Lucas says his favourite part of this playground is the see-saw, but I think he likes the big twirly slide just as much!
Noah spent a lot of time on the smaller playground. He played with the steering wheels and hung out at the picnic table where he likes to drink his water, and peek out at his buddies. B. spent almost the whole time in the sandbox, playing with trucks. Even when his friends went to play at other parts of the playground, he stayed put. In fact, he was so deeply engrossed in his play that he probably barely noticed who was or wasn't there.
Eventually we all headed down to the field to run around, but before long it was time to head home for lunch. They were all pretty clear with me when I told them it was time to go. They all said, (in their own respective ways of course), "No thanks. We're good." I couldn't blame them one bit for their desire to stay. It was such a gorgeous day, and they were enjoying every minute of it. Even with the promise of a pita bread snack in the wagon, I was rebuffed. The only thing that made them comply was the promise of a very small piece of chocolate cake, and a little bit of ice cream waiting for us at home. (It was Dan's birthday, so we had leftovers.) They received this after their lunch, of course. Nothing does the trick like a good bribe!
The twins were away early this week. Since we were more mobile with fewer kids, we trekked over to Vine Parkette. The kids refer to this playground as the "Choo Choo Playground", since we often see Go Trains and freight trains go by when we're there. It is in the Junction area, just North of Dundas Street, and west of Pacific Avenue. It is a well kept playground. Parents in the area donate lots of toys (a lot of which are ride-on toys), and people are decent enough not to take them away. They belong to all the kids who come to the playground. 
We also hit the grocery store, where we bought some healthier bribes, among other things. It was kind of neat to relate the actual experience to when we play pretend grocery store at home. Noah said the visit to the grocery store was his favourite part of the outing.
I only had Noah and Aidas to feed dinner to that night, so we made pancakes as a special treat. They were excellent at taking turns. Not surprisingly, cracking the eggs (with help, of course) seemed to give them the most joy. Here's a clip of the young bakers:
We made happy faces on our pancakes with strawberries and blueberries, to top them off.
I took a couple more videos today. I couldn't help myself. They are so cute. Pictures just cannot capture enough sometimes. I present to you, in their premier performance, the High Park Home Daycare Band! Aren't they awesome?
When I finished washing dishes after lunch today, I came into the living room to find this terrible pretend car crash. They look pretty happy to be in a car crash, don't they? 
Just before we went out for our walk today, they had also barricaded the front door with a car crash. I told them if we were going to go play outside, I needed to get the wagon through, and they needed to clean the scene. Within a minute B. had the crash cleared up. Anyway, I digress. Here is some footage from the post-lunch crash.

Enjoy your weekend. And please drive safely. ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Teach a Toddler to Put Own Coat on: The Fliperoo

I know this technique is well-known by most. It teaches an easier way to help kids put on their own coats. We have been doing it at the daycare for a while, and the kids are so proud of themselves. It is a great confidence booster for children, and it saves time for the caregiver. Here are the steps for what we, at the daycare, call "the Fliperoo":
  1. Open the child's coat and lay it on the ground so that the inside is facing upwards, the hood is closest to the child, and the armholes are easily accessible.
  2. Show the child how to bend down, and put his hands into the armholes.
  3. Once his hands are in, help him to raise his arms forwards and swing his arms all the way over his head, and behind him, in a circular motion.
That's it! (He will still need help to zip it up.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

It really was a long cold winter. It finally feels more like spring around here. The children and I have been thoroughly enjoying the weather. No more snow pants. No more mittens. It's bliss.
One day, we were lucky enough to catch the garbage truck emptying the bins at the apartment building. B. probably gets the most excited out of all five of them. He jumps up and down, saying "Boom!", anticipating the truck's actions.
These three have front row seats! All hail the garbage truck. 
I am absolutely thrilled that we are able to play on the grass now, without worrying about stepping in dog poop. The landscapers have really cleaned it up. And now that it is lush, green and clean, I think dog owners are feeling the pressure to clean up after their dogs. It makes all the difference to us. It is so clean now, that I was actually able to show the kids how to roll down the hill! We also had fun rolling a ball up and down the hill.
Our favourite game though, is still the 1-2-3-hug. I stand at the bottom of the hill. The kids stand at the top of the hill and say "1-2-3-go". Then they run down and give me a big hug. Fortunately, they don't all reach me at the same time, or it would be more like Rugby. I love this game. So does Maya. We're suckers for hugs.
After snack, when I'm cleaning up in the kitchen,  Maya often takes over my seat and re-reads the books I have read at snack. Lucas so wanted to enjoy this activity with his sister that he brought over a little chair so that he could sit beside her. Holy adorable!
I was sick with a fever and sore throat last weekend. It was only a matter of time before I shared these lovely germs with the kids. Maya was happily playing on this beautiful morning, but in the afternoon spiked a fever. The next day, she stayed home to recuperate. Her brother remained at home with her.
Since I only had 3 kids for the day, we decided to go to Chapter's book store in Bloor West Village. There was a very busy music and story time going on in the children's area when we got there. The boys played at the Thomas the Tank Engine train table, and also explored some puzzles and books at the little kids' table. 
We got Happy Meals from McDonald's for lunch. Noah calls it Old MacDonald's. Considering it was McDonald's food, their lunch was pretty healthy: grilled cheese and apple slices. We stopped the Hummer, I mean the wagon, beside a parked fire truck for a bit, while the kids ate their lunch. Then we went to the Runnymede branch of the Toronto Public Library, and borrowed a few books. It was a nice to do something a little different for the morning. Still, the daycare didn't feel quite right with the absence of the twins, so we were happy to have them back the next day.
And what a beautiful day it was! I decided to brave the Lithuania Park playground with the five kids. Wow! What an improvement in their climbing abilities since the fall! They were much more confident and able.    
They spent the majority of their time playing in the sand box. Another little boy shared some of his very cool toy trucks with us; definitely a highlight for them. We enjoyed almost 2 full hours at the playground, so when I suggested (read: bribed) a small cookie to eat while heading home, they eagerly agreed. 
It's so great to watch them play more freely, without the snowsuits or mittens to deal with. Hurray for spring!