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Monday, October 08, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: Toddler activities?


Toby went to preschool this summer, which was great, but when we were about to sign him up for the fall, we realized that the year-round program costs $53/hour! Can you believe that? Curses, NYC! Needless to say, we didn't sign him up, and instead figured we would just do cool activities with his friends a couple mornings a week.

Specificially, every Morning morning, he goes to the apartment of his best lady friend (who was also his first kiss!), and they do fun stuff. First, they baked banana/blueberry muffins. The second week, they made guacamole, below. The third week, we're planning to carve pumpkins.

Any other ideas for fun toddler activities? Art projects perhaps? Or a jam session with instruments? A parachute could be fun! What do you do with your little ones? Do any of you guys homeschool or teach preschool? Thank you SO much for any ideas! xoxo

P.S. Speaking of documentaries, there's a crazy (but true) one about NYC preschools.

160 comments:

janepeepshow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirsteen said...

I love his face in the bottom photo!

My toddler loves anything involving sand!! We also love trips to the library, and little walks -collecting leaves to bring home is one of his favourite activities at the moment.

Barb said...

i love how seriously they are taking their tasks! so cute, and a great idea to teach those little guys through real-life activities.

Rachel B.C. said...

This is the most adorable thing ever.

Petya K. Grady said...

Oh, Joanna, what wouldn't I give for a Monday morning guacamole making session with my best friend?!

Nicole FR said...

Adorbale. Marbleized paper is always a hit! ( http://unplugyourkids.com/2009/02/02/marbelized-paper/ )

Also - when I was little, I would make cornbread muffins with my mom (I'll link her recipe on my blog: http://embarcando.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/cornbread-development/) but would add food coloring to make different colored layers.

Zoë said...

Toby's face is hilarious in the last photo. He looks disgusted with either the guacamole or the fact that he's been reduced to making the guacamole. There's nothing wrong with guacamole-making, Toby! :)

ELLEN WOONT said...

Painting t-shirts!

Lady Calgary said...

I recently wrote a post about picture books with recipes in them: http://www.ladycalgary.com/2012/10/books-for-kids-picture-books-recipes.html

Love this idea of reading a book and then making whatever it is that's featured in the book (another example is P. Sturges "the little red hen (makes a pizza)"

And I second the idea of going to the library. I work at the library in Calgary and love it when families come regularly - once a week to get seven books, one book a day for the next seven bedtimes. Then you also return your seven books the next time you go so you stay on top of your due dates and don't get any overdue fines! :)

Anitra Sweet said...

Our library has a weekly movement and music class for toddlers that is free. Not sure if NYC has that. It's only a half hour but then we pick out books afterwards and go out to lunch along the way. It will take up a whole morning!

barbarasmithwilke.com said...

We did "preschool" at home with my now 5 year old, with the same kind of stuff, baking, cooking, "gluing and sticking", simple montessori/waldorf/reggio emilia stuff. And then we just signed her up for classes around the city-- dance/music/art/etc-- with the park district and Old Town School of Folk Music here in Chicago. The Chicago park district also offers super cheap neighborhood "preschool" for something like less than $200 a "semester". (not sure why I am quoting so much, I guess because we're talking about such little ones here lol) Does NYC have something similar?

What cuties...you should definitely get them butchering lamb chops or making goats cheese some time soon ;)

JeNifer said...

Toby handles a knife so much better than me! I'm actually scared to cut things like that, hah! Great job, Toby! You look like a pro. :)

Diana Mieczan said...

How sweet! What a great idea for kiddo-fun! My friend runs a little cooking group for kids every Wednesday and she also has a cool activity class with them on Fridays. Last week they made colourful baked and scented playdough(cinnamon and vanilla). They used it to create animals, letters and necklaces. Another thing: leaves collage. Kids love them! xoxo

Liz Lauren said...

so cute! love this idea...I babysit for 4 kids and love doing activities with them!


http://lavieenliz.com

Miss Ryan said...

There's a wonderful progamme over here in the UK on the BBC called 'I Can Cook'. The presenter works with small children to make all manner of different sweet and savoury foods in a really child-adapted manner. It is wonderful! The books are available on Amazon or you can find some recipes here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/i-can-cook I can vouch that everything is yummy!

Miss Ryan said...

I can also recommend The Imagination Tree for lovely ideas: http://www.theimaginationtree.com/

S.E.Minegar said...

Their faces are adorable! Toby is so intent and focused. My mom has my nephews a couple times a week. She often helps the boys make cut out cookies and decorate them, does foam sticker crafts (like making visors or masks...the key is the sticker option, no glue),or has sing-along time. My grandma used to make homemade play doh with us.

http://www.amazon.com/Foam-Zoo-Animal-Visor-Craft/dp/B001B7Y3PO/ref=sr_1_4?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1349706670&sr=1-4&keywords=foam+visor+craft

Jamie B said...

Hey Joanna!

My sister-in-law Amanda just finished a Masters Degree in child psych and her undergrad was in psych and art history. Her son, Max, is 2 and she has a craft and art site for kids that is great. She's also a teacher at a Montessori school, so the crafts cross into different school subjects. Check out http://weeheartart.blogspot.com/ if you have some time to see her super creative and educational ideas, all kid-tested.

Good luck!
Jamie

Miss Ryan said...

I never thought of taking seven books for seven days! What a good idea - I'll be doing this on Wednesday with my little girl :)

Janssen said...

I run a little music group for toddlers (free) at my house once a week and it's a HUGE hit. I wrote about it here: http://www.everyday-reading.com/search/label/Toddler%20Music%20Group

Sarah Tucker said...

Oh little Toby is so precious! $53/hour is insane! Quality time with his gal-pal is much better anyways ;)

-Sarah

Nicole said...

Years ago I was an early-childhood teacher at the Philadelphia Zoo. We had workshop series that parents could bring their little toddlers to weekly over the course of a month or so. There would be a song, live animals for touching and learning about and a craft. Most of the families were ones that were skipping preschool. I'm sure the NY museums/zoos have stuff like that too

Livyb said...

Gah! Those two littles just made my Monday morning. So very, very sweet. Thanks for sharing, Joanna.

Diana said...

Bird feeder. cover pinecone in peanut butter and roll in seeds :)

MaxxSilly said...

My son has been fascinated by putting pipe cleaners in the holes in the colander. We are also big craft people in this house. Stringing beads. Coloring and anything with foam stickers is a hit. Good luck!

Elisa Shere said...

$53 an hour is crazy!!! I have a little one about the same age and he's too young for preschool here in Seattle (they have to be 30 months, sometimes by August). But, we do LOTS of fun stuff. We go to the park almost everyday, playdates with friends (a friend's toys are fun), community toddler gym, cafes with play areas, lots of art activities like painting, playdoh and drawing, gardening, going on walks and seeing our neighbor's chickens, the sculpture park, the beach, lots of books. One of my favorite tricks though, on rainy days is to fill a big casserole dish with rice or oatmeal and then hide small toys in it. It's a fun game for him. Plus probably many more I'm not even thinking of. Good luck having fun with your guy!

newmamasarah said...

That is CRAZY expensive! Try scoping out local libraries for free story times.. sometimes they even throw in a craft or activity.

I have taught pre-k for many years and I'd invest in an easel/paints/chalk (ikea-super reasonable) with a huge roll of paper. Maybe a pop up tent (space saving.. they like sitting in there reading, playing- very fort-like). Parachutes are always a big hit, esp if he has some kiddo friends to play with.. throw a ball in the middle of the parachute and watch it bounce- endless amusement for that age.

I like the idea of keeping some sort of routine- Mondays we go to your friends house, Tuesdays, the library, Wednesday- we make music (staple two paper plates together with noodles inside- instant tambourine), etc. Keeps some consistency and might make it easier for you to plan out some cool activities.

Katie said...

They look like they're really enjoying baking! I'm starting a new job working in childcare and have dedicated a pinterest folder for activities http://pinterest.com/ktea/3bears/

other great inspiration blogs:
http://www.littleecofootprints.com/
http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/
http://www.icanteachmychild.com/2-3-years/

Hope you guys find something fun!xx

Gabriella Darmasaputra said...

uhhh toby is so cute! he's like a little tiny adult. and those eyebrows!

Kirsten said...

My mom used to put my brother and me in the bath tub with washable paints (from Toys R Us, probably) and let us paint the tub, each other, etc. It was SO much fun!

When it was over, just turn on the shower : )

-Kirsten
mylifetintedpink.blogspot.com

Nadia Ivanova said...

Hey Joanna,

Isn't Toby the cutest?

I am a Beaver Scout Leader (so ages 6 to 8) - a bit older than what you are looking for, I suppose but some of the ideas could be done by little ones too!

Now that autumn is here one actvity I recommend is making autumn place mats! You need colorful paper A4, some PVA ot other glue, and a laminator (or a place which would laminate pages for you - stationery stores normally do that).

Toby and his friends need to go for a stroll and collect some autumn leaves). Then they can paint a picture (or simply do some scribblings on the colorful sheets of paper) and then glue the leaves to the picture - with or without a pattern. Laminate the ready (dried - esp if you use PVA glue which is more watery that the rest) product and voilà - you have a great autumn place mat for him to look at while eating (and hopefully, it will keep the mess controlled).

Hope this helps.

Regards from Gibraltar and kiss for Toby,
Nadia

Danielle said...

I ran camps for two and three years olds for two summers, then taught a semester of pre-school (twos and threes, and threes-fives on Fridays). We did weekly themes (normally seasonal), and did one or two crafts projects a day, a couple of books, lots of freeplay, and lots of dancing/singing. For the season, I'd suggest apple prints, tissue paper trees, pumpkin painting/pumpkin seed baking, bird feeders (pinecones with peanut butter, seeds, etc.), painting bird houses, leaf prints, etc. I love that you guys are cooking! I rarely did that with the kids, but they LOVED it. Do you think Toby would like pomegranates? They seem like they'd be fun for kids :)

Elisa Shere said...

I wanted to add that I'm excited to see everyone's ideas :) also, yes to free story time at the library. That's a great one!

allyson mae said...

i made cloud dough for my son (3.5) and nephwew (2.5). they loved it! it's basically flour + baby oil. it is mold-able but soft. caution: it's messy! (but fun). i also like science related projects like baking soda + vinegar + food coloring (volcanos). have fun!!

ordinette said...

keep children busy is the best education. Have a great day
laura

Lindsay Meyer-Harley said...

Hi Joanna!

Isn't NYC totally insane? I feel ya. Juliette goes to a daycare/preschool that's affordable (thank god) and though I have those pangs of "is she missing out by not going to some spendy preschool with the perfect gym & art room?" I have to calm my nerves and say to myself that she's a happy, thriving 3 year old and it's okay that she doesn't go to a mini harvard to grow into a productive, happy adult. ha.

We are looking into some classes at the Y. I am a believer in not going overboard with activities, let kids be kids and enjoying discovering what interests them without pushing it on them too much. So we are likely to pick 1 or 2 at most. They are super affordable and I hear pretty good things about them. Look into that!

Other activities, kids like continuity, so by having "Art Day" or "Cooking Day" I think you can make regular activities exciting and something to look forward to. Talking about it the night before, giving them something to look forward to. It also gives their week a sense of order which school would have done.

Good luck. Those photos are just precious!!!!

Xx
Lindsay
www.darlingclementineshop.com

Emma said...

I love the picture of the two of them holding knives. When I lived in Germany as a kid the Kindergarden had "Rohkost" hour which basically taught kids to use (not-too-sharp) knives and start cutting up their own vegetables. Carrots, cukes, kohlrabi, the works. I think it really teaches them early on some pretty vital skills that often get overlooked.

Mad Max and Family said...

So cute! I need to do more baking / cooking with my Mad Max (21 months). I work full-time (art teacher) so I'm mostly only w/ him on weekends and our breaks (breaks are GREAT!).

I write about a lot of our activities and projects on our blog, but Max takes music class and soccer class. And we've tried swimming too.

I love taking him to museums, other cultural institutions, and events in the city (Houston).

As far as art activities ... we color a lot and do sculpture (play-doh), and I just bought him a finger painting kit for Halloween! I can't wait to try it with him. I'm going to start doing more arts with him now that he's getting older and doesn't eat everything. My Mom / MIL help with watching him, and they started doing a lot of cutting and pasting activities. He made a Halloween pumpkin out of construction paper. I could go on and on w/ ideas though!

In the summertime, I have a set (yet flexible) schedule with him during the week days. Monday was literacy day (Library Time) for example...and we had Artful Thursdays (most museums here on free on Thursday).

Good luck!

Tara

http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com
http://blog.chron.com/madabouttown/

Bluebells and Lavender said...

How about buying a few canvasses and getting the children to paint their masterpieces??? Too messy, how about planting herbs/seeds for the kitchen garden? Have a great week! Sharon

Jill said...

When snowed in last winter and couldn't make it to preschool:
We dyed pasta different colors in zip lock bags and then used the penne and other tubular shaped noodles and yarn to make necklaces.
Paper plates are a great resource for arts and crafts - you can cut various shapes out of black paper, have them paint paper plates orange and use glue sticks to paste the shapes onto them (making their own jack-o-lantern faces).
You can collect leaves and do leaf-shading with crayons.
My kid loves getting her stickers and paints out and decorating rocks that we collect on walks and/or trips to the beach.
You could cut apples/potatoes to make home-made stamps and have them "paint" this way.

sip-n-wear said...

let them paint! they should love that! how cute!!

dc said...

Nature walks to collect fall leave to iron between waxed paper or make maple leaf crowns. To bad you don't live in my town, our gardens have great inexpensive youth programs: http://www.fcgov.com/gardens/programsspecial-events/youth-programs--birthday-parties

natalienoods said...

As a nanny/baby-sitter for more than half my life (woo!), here's what I've got for you: kiss cookies (with hershey kisses) are great for little helpers (rolling the dough in sugar, unwrapping all the kisses, pressing on kisses), fishing for magnets in the bathtub, bubbles (always bubbles!), marking cards for friends/family, fruit salad "art" on paper plates, handprint ornaments, hide-the-button and have them search, fort building....it goes on forever! 2-4 is such a great age for imagination play, have so much fun!!

Kat said...

Make Gak (http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/glue-borax-gak). My 2 year old LOVES it. It is surprisingly clean.

laurie anne said...

http://madebyjoel.com/ has tons of stuff to do with kids!

Julia said...

I was going to write a long list of idea. But to keep it short and sweet..here's my pinterest board of ideas! http://pinterest.com/julia_f/sensory-learning/

we make a lot of cookie mixes and pudding mixes at our house. the recipes are simple for kids to follow and they get to help with the whole process. I also keep all of my scrap craft paper for them to glue, cut (with safety scissors) and glitter.

Sounds so fun! I can't imagine paying that much!! My daughter goes to a parents morning out 1x a week and it is $4 an hour!

wmbg. said...

toby is so adorable!

CFunk said...

Oh my gosh, Toby's eyebrows just slay me! He is the cutest, Jo.

Eugy said...

These photos are darling! I can't wait to bake with my little boy.

$53?!? :( We're in NYC also and always on the look out for fun and affordable (or free!) things to do. For the past two months we've been checking out all the wonderful free baby and toddler classes at our local libraries in Harlem. Bilingual Birdies (last month was French, this month Spanish) and the combined story time and music classes (songs with musical instruments) is a huge hit!

I'm sure the libraries in your area have similar classes that Toby might enjoy with his girlfriend. :)

Lil T said...

Build terrariums?! Go on a scavenger hunt for different kinds of leaves before its too too cold.

Mademoiselle Michael said...

There's a French documentary called "Etre et Avoir" (To be and to have) about a brilliant teacher in a one room school house. Perhaps you've seen it? If not, you MUST. The students are 4 to 11-years-old. Obviously older than toddlers, but it's beautiful and amazing. There's certainly material that would be helpful and insightful.

Maria said...

We're welcoming a little one into our family in March so I'd be very interested to read everyone's suggestions!

Maria xx
www.cheekypinktulip.blogspot.com

Julia said...

Oh and I thought of one more! Bead necklaces are easy to make and so cute http://www.lifeonchurchill.com/2012/08/diy-wood-bead-necklaces.html

sarah.oblenes said...

- Mini Beast Hunting! aka searching for bugs :) Get some of those little bug boxes with a magnifier cover and search through the park
- Grow an herb garden
- The Art of Construction by Mario Salvadori is meant for elementary age but I'm sure some of the models could be modified
- Mixing corn starch and water is also a lot of fun... test it out :)

E. and Baby P. said...

i'm really confused how any preschool program could cost $53/hr! is that a typo?
how about a trip to the library? there's usually a reading time in the morning. also, at my son's preschool, they do monthly field trips like even going to the local supermarket or the local bakery.

Lynn said...

Have you considered doing a Toddlers and Baking show? I think it would be a big hit!

rachelthat said...

Baking soda + vinegar volcano!
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments/vinegarvolcano.html

If he has any toy dinosaurs he can put them at the base of the volcano and recreate a possible extinction scenario.

Jessie Knadler said...

SUCH a bummer about the $53 per hour pre-school. Where I live in rural Virginia, we can send our 2 yo to Montessori all day (8:30 - 5 - we both work fulltime) for just under $1,000 a month. She adores it there and is getting first rate learning experience. There are some perks to living outside of a major metropolis!

Daisy Whitaker said...

Home made play dough is so much fun - the making as much fun as the playing...!

http://mommyfootprint.com/the-perfect-home-made-play-dough-recipe/

Robyn said...

fab! growing plants/herbs. minibast hunt. like the baking / cooking theme-can do lots-like smoothies, worms in mud (chocolate pudding with gummy worms in it), healthy sandwiches (with faces) etc. junk modelling of minibeasts/robots/castle. lots of gutting and pasting, dancing, playing in sand pits (at the park) . Make own instruments with dried beans/ lentils etc-use these for music etc. Oh-so much fun...sure there are loads of ideas out there. the BBC has some great dance/keep fit things/clips out there for young children.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/
enjoy enjoy!

Allison Nimlos said...

NYC schools (pre-school on up) is the main reason why I refuse to move back to the city. I know Westchester (where my husband and I live) isn't much better, but I know the school system is a little easier to manage. NYC is lovely, but the stressful aspects of it just aren't worth it IMO. I much prefer to visit regularly than to put up with the craziness!

A Place to Bee said...

I can recommend I Can Cook too! Here in the UK we also have 'Mr Maker' a TV programme all about making stuff from all kinds of household materials (dishcloths, rubbers etc) - easy cheap and fun. My two (aged 3 and 5.5) love anything which involves glue and glitter!


Time home with mummy and/or a best friend is definatly a great idea, especially if they are bonding with a good friend, and time spent in a larger group could help with the sharing and socialising side of things..at least, my two definately needed it! :) One mum locally hosts weekly toddler music classes in her home and its very popular - maybe you could get together with other local mums and form a larger group where you alternate hosting a toddler group in each others homes?

www.bakerross.co.uk has a zillion craft ideas for kids - hopefully you'll find lots of inspiration there!

lg said...

Make some play dough: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Playdough-Play-doh/
It is safe, fun and kids can play with it for a long time.
Also you can build a house/fort with a few chairs and blankets.... who does not love that?

M. Crane said...

Books, books, books! It's never to early to be encouraging a love for reading. There could be a theme each week - space, animals, shapes, transportation....check out/borrow as many books as you can on these, then have them available for toddlers. Do one "guided" readaloud where the kids are listening to the book and ask them predictions or comprehension questions along the way (at their level, of course.) Then have the rest of the books for the kids to explore and "read" on their own! They could do activities to correspond with the theme: baking, an art project, a song....can you tell I'm an elementary school teacher? :-)

Sascha Anderson said...

This is the one thing I dread once we start to raise kids here in the city-- the crazy cost of childcare and the even crazier competitiveness of pre-school. As of now, my husband and I are planning to move out of the city before school age for this reason--well, that and we'd like to farm and make cheese, which is a little bit easier outside of the city :). I love seeing that you've found a common sense solution, though-- very encouraging!

Amy Archer said...

when i was little, a few moms in the neighborhood would do something similar. we would rotate houses each morning. for example, all the kids were at my house one morning, then the next we were at a different kids house, then the next day a different one. we would do things like bake, have an exercise day etc. it was a lot of fun and i actually met my best friend there. :)

Cherry Blossoms said...

Holy Moly! I don't care how much people make or how great of a school but $53 an HOUR for a preschooler is INSANE!!! I love the idea you have come up with by getting together each week with other kids and doing your own activities. I am preschool teacher at a private Catholic preschool in Austin and I about fell over when I read $53!
A fun activity that I love doing with the little ones is take a foot or hand prints and turn it into say a ghost for Halloween or a hand print and turn it into a turkey for thanksgiving. The parents love these type of projects. Plus, they make cute framed holiday decor.

Cherry Blossoms said...

oh and for physical exercise chasing bubbles out of a bubble machine is a fun activity to get the wiggles out!

All about lady Things said...

They're so cute *.*

Catie Cap said...

That's such a great idea for your little boy! I am a Pre-K teacher now and used to teach in a 2 & 3 year old room at a daycare, so I have a couple of ideas to share that you might like! My kiddos always loved the water table! You could go around your apartment and find a whole bunch of things to figure out if they will sink, or float. Get a big bucket of water (or plug your bathtub!!!) and watch as blocks will sink, but maybe your favorite binky will float!
Toddlers love getting their hands dirty, and sensory experience is so important for them! You could (mess alert) get either flour or shaving cream and put some on a tray or an easily cleaned table or counter and just let them move their fingers around in it, making shapes, pictures, etc. Show him what his name looks like, and more!
Finally, my absolute favorite is making homemade playdough! Here is a recipe for no-cook playdough that I love: http://prekinders.com/play-dough-recipes/. Playdough like this is the best because you can absolutely have Toby help you measure and pour, AND if they eat it, it's alright because it's mostly salt (ew!). It also keeps for a couple of weeks in a ziplock bag.

Hope those helped, and good luck!! :)

Cate

Posh Pearl said...

OH. MY. GOSH. TOOOOOOOOO CUTE!!!

Lauren Ashley said...

I love how concentrated they look - so much focus!

Courtney said...

Those pictures are the cutest!!

Samantha said...

I sure hope there is a round up post on all the great ideas you get.

fillthewell said...

Hah, I thought the same thing. In that picture, he looks like a miniature Food Network chef.

Abbie said...

Sad isn't it. But totally true. I'm sure many cost even more!

Sennie said...

We homeschool, too. Mine are 8th graders and a first grader. There are so many homeschool blogs with fantastic ideas. I'd check www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com for a list. Have fun!!

Fancy Pants said...

Ack! I'm sooo not ready to event think about the pre-school costs (I'm due with my first in a month!) but I love the idea of the toddler activities regularly with friends. I also suggest finger-painting (with edible finger paint), story hours and singalongs and "treasure hunts" outside. Works really well with my niece. She can spend HOURS looking for 1 pink thing, 1 shiny thing..etc.

tamara said...

Maybe look into weekly programs like gymnastics classes, music and movement, etc. I nannied for a little boy who I took to different classes that he really enjoyed, and those are fun ways to get out of the house for an hour or so. I would guess these work out to a lot cheaper than $50/hour!

Kate Uhry said...

53-Ouch. I used to teach preschool. So many fun art activities (if whoever is caregiving is up for it! ) Keep it fairly simple-playdough, finger painting (yikes). Just hang a clothesline to hang the artwork on. Invest in butcher rolls of paper to cover tables (than you just throw it out when it's done) Us old t-shirts instead of smocks (they cover the whole toddler). Instead of a "water table" buy some large rubbermaid containers, and fill with water, and water toys). You can keep the lid on when you don't use it.

Christa said...

Joanna- Fill an under the bed storage container with playground sand or mulch. Then, bury things in the sand (fake bugs, toy cars, etc). Give the kids some tools like little shovels / magnifying glasses etc and let them explore. It's great fun!

Liz said...

They are such darlings!! I'm dying.

Nina Leung said...

I had a very regimented schedule with my toddler before he started preschool. Mondays: Music class (a great local guy here in Berkeley who writes his own amazing music, jsom.com ), Tuesdays: playdate with friends at local parks, Wednesdays: Swim Class at the Y, Thursdays: Our own Art day (I'm an artist) doing printmaking (monoprints usually), painting, cutting with scissors to make collages, gluing, etc. and Fridays: Nature Walk with friends with a new craft by each Mom every week. It was busy, but boy did he sleep well in the afternoon while I got a good breather! There is so much to do with this age and it only gets better as they get older. It's amazing to watching them accomplish new tasks.

lea said...

My friend and I started a program called Guardians of the City where we go around to schools (for free - they just have to help provide the art supplies!) and we make up superheroes with the kids to protect their neighborhoods and then we make street art with the kids and basically bring their superheroes to life :) It's a really fun project (for both us and the kids) and they get to see their art in the city!

collette said...

Adorable! I just have to applaud you not sending him to preschool just because "everyone else does". We looked at preschool at 3, but it would have cost $50 more a week and our nanny is quite good at doing all the stuff with my son they would do anyway! Now that my daughter's 4, she goes to 4K for free one day, and we pay for half-day daycare, and it is so nice. You are lucky your career affords you this flexibility!

jamie said...

You may already know this blog and maybe it's been mentioned but just in case - I don't even have kids, and I'm addicted to reading this amazing blog full of wonderful creative ideas for toddlers!!

http://tinkerlab.com/

MJ said...

Hey Joanna,
Since you talk so honestly about so many things on your blog (including topics related to your blog), my friend and I have a question. Did you ever question whether you should post so many photos of Toby on the blog? Do your friends ever ask that their kids not be pictured? Just wondering!

Shawn said...

http://handsonaswegrow.com/2012/04/50-toddler-activities/

lessthanperfectmama.com said...

Playdough is a big activity around here, as is baking. You can also make age-appropriate scavenger hunts with little prizes for the winner (stickers or mini M&Ms).

Cinzia In Italia said...

I just watched that documentary last night. Insane!

jenbeth said...

Since Halloween is coming up, have them decorate/color their own masks that you can just cut out of cardboard or construction paper. Or you could cut wholes for eyes and mouth in a brown paper bag and they can decorate those as a mask!

Gretchen said...

My good friend and one of her friends recently put together this great blog and quarterly publication of fun, easy crafts and activities to do with little ones http://www.craftingconnections.net/. I'd recommend checking it out!

Wendy said...

"Lady friend" I lol'd.

In Florida, we have a lot more year round options due to the weather, so parks for ducks, lakes for tadpoles and turtles and the beach for shells can be ventured to on almost any given day. I haven't read the other comments but for cooler, windy weather kites are always fun. Regular trips to the library for story time are great, too.

Tracy Fontaine said...

Paper airplanes! I knew a little boy of a similar age as Toby who just adored coloring the paper, folding it into the plane, and competing to see whose flew furthest.

From my Montessori days, I also suggest simple sewing projects and polishing silver.

Justin + Liesl said...

How totally and completely darling. and that price?? Outrageous!?!?! What will it be when I have kids I wonder??? Better set up a savings now. Thanks for the post! Sounds like a fun time!

xoxo
Liesl

woodsy-soiree.blogspot.com

me said...

potato prints! On paper, t-shirts, your walls...

Ella said...

this post reminds me so much of this book, kitchen playdates! http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Playdates-Entertaining-Delicious-Recipes/dp/B0030ILWH4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349728671&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Playdate

Julie said...

sooo sweet!
xx
www.yuliamoscow.com

megan said...

Nature walks- walk with a small bucket find little things like leaves and rocks, can be a seasonal thing. When you return home you can make art projects with your findings. Like leaf rubbing, flowers inbetween wax paper and painted with starch for a stain glass picture. It is a great way to teach about the different seasons.

Library trips. Pick a topic each week and find stories that relate. Or find out when the story time is in the children`s section and make it part of your routine. We have met so many friends this way.

Childrens Museum pass to make trips part of your routine.

Music Class

Sports Class

The thing is that they are going to be in school faster than we realize. They grow up so quickly. I say enjoy as much time with them now before they are in school for at least the next 13 years full time. They can learn so much with one on one attention. The social things will come as they are playing in the park and the friends you meet along the way of your adventures in the world.

carina said...

I love Toby's face in the last picture:-D He's like wtf?

domonique matthews said...

a few favorites at our house are
playdough, play hammer + golf tees
playdough + popsicle sticks
styrofoam block, play hammer + golf tees
kitchen sink with warm bubbles, liquid water colors + lots of plastic things (cups, flat wear, babies, cars, etc.)
a bag of mini pumpkins, paint + a sprinkle of glitter
watering plants
playing with a cookie sheet of shaving cream
colored masking tape, cardboard or other recyclibles
a few fun ideas on my pintrest page for kids http://pinterest.com/abowlfullofsimp/kids/

Sol Kawage said...

Here in socialist europe I pay 60 € a month for 7 hours of montessori preschool. The location is a castle with a huge garden and my kids love it.

That said, I would give ANYTHING to live in New York.

Sol Kawage said...

7 hours a day, 5 days a week, I meant...

FieldsofGrace said...

As someone who was homeschooled during the pioneer years ;), try it! If only for a year, a semester, a month. A few preschool workbooks can be purchased for much less than $53 if you want to add structured academic materials into your activity sessions.

My older sister and I have fabulous memories of community craft and library days, and of learning to read! I remember loving the feeling of safety when making early reading mistakes in front of people I knew (my parents, friends' parents...) in the early year or two of reading.

Homeschooling isn't the path for everyone, but it opened the delights of learning in our minds. If my mom was home when our curriculum was delivered in the late-summer, we had to keep the books sealed until the week before classes started. If she was gone, we ripped everything open and started reading history books or working through the first few chapters of our math books (including the even problems that didn't have answers in the back... I'm so proud of my young self ;).

Have fun with all your wonderful preschool activities! Props to all for the great ideas posted so far. :)

Miss Singer said...

Oh my gosh, I loved Nursery University. It's so interesting, a great documentary!

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StephieLou said...

http://childhood101.com

jennbordr93 said...

you should look into starting Toby in Suzuki Method baby/toddler music classes! all though high school I would assist my Suzuki piano instructor's class and I loved the energy and love I always felt in the room! the mantra is that every child no matter what ability or age is musically talented.
I took Suzuki lessons from the age of 6 (i'm in college now!) and I can honestly say that it has been invaluable to my education and personal development :)

with that said, here are some ideas for Toby and his lady-friend:
- give the tots flow-y scarves and play classical (or even Cuban/Spanish) music. you'll be surprised how rhythmic they can be!
- make wooden bead necklaces (they're bigger and easier to string)
- paint t-shirts!
- plant small plants and water with him every day and watch it grow!
- get a butterfly kit set it all up and read butterfly books to get them excited for when the cocoon opens!

hope this helped :)

Jen

Maiz Connolly said...

Oh, boy! This post made me want to move back to NYC and open a preschool! :) $$$

I got a lot of great toddler play and craft ideas for our three little boys from these sites:

The Artful Parent, http://www.artfulparent.com/
The Crafty Crow, http://belladia.typepad.com/crafty_crow/
Filth Wizardry, http://www.filthwizardry.com/

and I've posted some of our favorite activities on my blog, The Brooding Hen, http://thebroodinghen.blogspot.com/

Unknown said...

check out this blog. these women are so awesome and creative! even if you don't do their activities, it could give you ideas that spawn your own.
http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/

Erica said...

I Just moved to Brooklyn a month ago. I am an avid reader of your blog--even during my year and half volunteer experience in Brazil. I guess it was my little way to connect with American life. I dream of designing learning spaces for children. When I got here, I met a neighborhood mother who was saying there wasn't any quality affordable daycare for young children in the area. We decided to start a daycare. I call it a hands on, homemade, holistic approach. I dream of spending every day with the kids exploring this big beautiful world of ours.. even through guacamole! in case you guys end up moving to brooklyn..... www.fortgreenehomedaycare.com and I occasionally blog about fun children's activities, too at www.beaheart.com!!

so genki said...

my sister has collected some great kids playgroup activity ideas on her pinterest... http://pinterest.com/cateoh/playgroup/

caitlin wiley said...

la petite ecole is a fantastic, affordable, French immersion preschool with two locations in Ny. Everyone should check it out :)

srottenberg said...

So cute! When mine were little we did a lot of library story time, museum memberships -- the aquarium, zoo and children's museums were big hits, baking and cooking (check out yummyfun.com for great ideas), play doh, painting, playing in the park, and bus riding. I did a bunch of research and found about 1 free activity a day for kids in the neighborhood, which I gave our nanny. She could choose to go to or not, but it gave her some good options. I'm sure there are some amazing free activities, even in NY.

KaylaKrumvieda said...

Eat your way through the alphabet. It requires planning ahead, but it's fun! Each day (or every other day or once a week... your choice) you eat a snack that begins with the letter for that day (or week). Start with A (apples, apricots, almonds, avocado, etc.) and work your way through the alphabet. Each night you can discuss what letter you will eat the next day and amp it up. Each day talk up that letter, for example if the letter is G you would maybe have grapes for snack and then throughout the day you point out objects, signs, toys that all begin with the letter G. My preschoolers love it!

Maiz Connolly said...

I forgot Made by Joel, also full of great inspiration! http://madebyjoel.com/

Bibliothécaire said...

I'm a preschool librarian and let me tell you, finger plays are where it is at. Also dancing... look for they might be giants clap your hands. Tell them to follow along and just watch ITS SO CUTE! The first few times they will just look at it until they notice you following along. Its great fun!
Also felt books are really fun to make with them.

Dana DeVolk said...

Such cuties! EEK!
<3 Dana @ This Silly Girl's Life

H.Reams said...

My son and I used to love making pizza. And all kinds of breads and muffins.
Also get big cardboard boxes, build a ship or fort or whatever and have them decorate it with markers etc. Hours of fun!

Julia said...

I read that one homeschooling mom chose a letter for the week, they ate food which coincided with the letter, learned a virtue that began with the same letter and also had an animal to learn in the same way. I pinned it on my preschool idea board: pinterest.com/juliajean/my-boys/

Y said...

Hi!! I just watched that documentary over the weekend.....what craziness! And how cute is Toby in the kitchen!! Adorbs. I remember having a reading teepee....it was a giant teepee or even a blanket tent that I use to go inside of and tell stories, read books, etc etc. I think the teepee idea made a boring activity more fun so that's a sneaky way of sneaking in some academia ;)

Chris said...

Love your blog and read it every day. I look after my two year old grandson twice a week and we mainly just hang out in my yard. He loves picking up rocks, pinecones, water play (with all sorts of containers around the house). We can also see planes landing/taking off from our house so that's a great thrill. After I've picked him up from his house, we usually stop to watch the diggers and dump trucks. There is a lot of construction going on in Vancouver. Although I think the less 'organized' activity the better, there is no right or wrong when one is spending time with their child.

Zenkichi said...

my son is 4 yrs old now and every year we make xmas cookies from scratch. we roll out the dough together and he uses a cookie cutter of his choice (have a variety ready) to cut out cookies. then i let him decorate with icing and sprinkles, again of his choice. punch a hole with a straw tip before baking and turn it into a tree ornament for the season.

my son also loves to help me cook. i let him peel vegetables and he loves to watch me cut and prep. he can mix or put things in the pot as long as i'm there with him. it's a great way for him learn different veggies and i've noticed that he's more open to try new dishes if he had helped make it.

fleur_delicious said...

Jo, are you familiar with the Soule family? Not only is there a great book (or two?) out now, but Amanda blogs at soulemama.com and she's got tons of great ideas since they homeschool their children and family and home are the center of their blog! Check it out! (I've got a little bit of a crush on the Soule family, can you tell? I love love love the way SouleMama and SoulePapa speak with so much tenderness and love for their family!)

anissa ljanta said...

sheesh...124 comments with suggestions..your head must be spinning! Anyway...here's a few most popular posts for toddler fun from my blog: my son and i have so much fun i tell you!

http://growmama.blogspot.co.nz/2011/10/stop-go.html
http://growmama.blogspot.co.nz/2010/08/natural-dye.html
http://growmama.blogspot.co.nz/2009/06/favourite-kind-of-fun.html
http://growmama.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/science-at-home.html

you'll find 'a cup of jo' link on the right there!x

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tracy baker said...

This is a super fun project to do with little kids! They get messy & clean at the same time!

http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/marbling.htm

Hirsita Dixit said...

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allie said...

hahahaha neither of them look like they are enjoying the guacamole, that is too cute!

Céline said...

Nice to read from your kiddies adventures... I'm blogging about food and some of the crafts we do. Latest one was the Leaf Family! Have a look at http://chezcelineparis.blogspot.fr/

Georgina said...

If it's a nice day, there is nothing better than a big tub of water (dyed with food colouring, or with some dish soapy bubbles in it, or just straight up) and several measuring cups and bowls of different sizes. Set up time: 2 seconds, clean up time: 2 seconds, fun time: as long as the sun is out.

Jennifer Rose Cox said...

I love story-time dates with other toddlers. I meet up with another mom at the local library for story-time and then to a local park or coffee shop depending on the weather!

Susan Magnolia said...

I recommend sensory activities.

Get a bin or tub of some sort and fill it with rice, sand, birdseed, or water (endless possibilities here) and throw in some measuring cups, animals, etc. This is a free activity that offers the fun of cooking without the rules. Make sure that you can clean up the mess easily so you don't stress and provide guidelines for keeping the "water in the water basin" and let him go at it. Toby will spend ages sifting, poring, scooping and burying. Good for inside days!

Also experiment with cornstarch and water, and play dough. There a ton of recipes for dough available. Have fun!

Maywyn said...

Best fun with the kids...bread dough ornaments. Flour, water and salt with safe food dyes or acrylic paint.
Remind them the dough is Not food, before and after baking.
You can color the dough before baking or paint them after baking. I prefer the paint after.
For the not nimble fingers use cookie cutters. Rolling candy canes is easy as rolling balls to flatten into snow people.
Seal them when kids aren't around.



bestof2sisters.com said...

WOW! daycare in NYC is not cheap, to say the least! Luckily its relatively cheap in Norway. ¨

We wrote a post on kids activities some month back, which I think would work really well on your play-date mornings, especially the stone painting! The littles will LOVE this, especially if you put on googly eyes. Trust me; the stones come ALIVE! ;-)

http://bestof2sisters.com/2012/07/24/inside-out/

Another suggestion for December: decorate ginger break house, with lots of sweeties. A quaint x-mas deco, especially with lights inside. Growing up it was such a treat to smash it up end of January (I know - hello dust collector!) and share with friends.

/Louisa

Jamie Dorobek said...

I love kid art! Here's a link to 67 hand and foot print projects for kids... Hope it inspires some creativity :) http://www.creatingreallyawesomefreethings.com/paper-plate-crafts/

Lisa from Minneapolis said...

It's funny, I don't even have kids but I just read through all these ideas. I'm nostalgic today, I guess :-) Some childhood activities that are still wonderful memories:
- Making paper chain garlands for the holidays. My mother had old heavy foil wrapping paper from the '50s, which made for a pretty result!
- flour/salt/water dough & ornaments. We were encouraged to make our own little 3-D creations, not just cookie cutter shapes. I still have the little ornament of me on my toboggan wearing a stocking cap & my brother on skis (made of toothpicks). Just slow bake in the oven & come back another day to paint. My dad would lacquer them later so they are still around 40 years later. The complexity went up each year - a fun way to see how one develops.
- Do-it-yourself golf course. We saved empty soup cans, poked a few holes in the bottom (to let water drain out) and planted them in the ground with top of can level to the earth. Add a little plastic golf club! (Hope you have access to some personal green space?)
- Sack toss: My mom made little fabric sacks filled with dried beans, and dad cut some holes out of a piece of masonite (double thick foam core might work). Depending on the kid might even be doable inside?
- Eye-spy scavenger hunt: make a list of interesting things then go on a walk to look for them (example: a store with a red awning, someone wearing pink, a doggie)
- and of course other things mentioned here: forts, sandbox, plants in styrofoam cups, pine cone feeders, leaves between waxpaper, snowmen, baking

A few things we didn't do but would have been fun:
- Movies with toddlers (for those socialistas): Seems like most theaters who offer this do it on a Wed morning. They keep the lights up higher and don't sweat the noise level. The entire crowd is moms with kids, so no worry about disrupting.
- Fun via the US mail: a woman I know pre-addressed/stamped some envelopes and had close friends send her child something by mail. Maybe a penny, a paper doll, a photo of a friend, stickers - almost anything a little one would enjoy. Made a real event out of getting the mail.

Hope you make great memories!

homesteady said...

we had a co-op with three other families and would rotate the kids each week. this was my go-to resource for activities:

http://www.thecraftycrow.net/

one springtime favorite was collecting flowers and then using rocks to pound them onto watercolor paper- it covered all the bases for the kids [nature walk, scents, picking, pounding, transformation] and the results were stunning.

some fall activities were painting pumpkins and gluing googly eyes on them- adding bows and hats really brings them to life. and making applesauce. I trusted my girl with supervised peeling [the plastic handled kind] at age two and she felt so in charge going to town on the apples. she can participate [helping me push] in the cutting when I use one of these:http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Grips-Apple-Corer-Divider/dp/B00004OCKT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349807317&sr=8-1&keywords=apple+corer+slicer

add some water or juice, honey and cinnamon, and scent the house while you wait until it's ready to mash and eat!

Emily said...

Oh my stars...that is one cooking show I would watch:) Adorable!

thecreamline said...

Check out http://howwemontessori.typepad.com/ It's one of my favorite kid-related sites.

Megan said...

Do you ever take Toby to the library as an activity? We'd love to talk to interview you about it for www.atyourlibrary.org/connectwithyourkids

ktperdue said...

i just watched that documentary while scrolling through netflix! unreal! also, playing with water is a great activity for kids. also shaving cream is fun for them to touch and they can draw something in it. sorting colors and shapes, you could do fall crafts that involve their feet and hands or even trace their whole body. music parades are always a hit, planting a seed and letting them see it grow, cutting magazines is a good practice thing too! good luck :)

Stephanie Sabbe said...

It's so sad that I am ashamed to tell some of my girlfriends here in Boston that I've decided to wait until my little guy is 3 to put him in preschool. Seriously, I can't take the "what about his development" discussions, like it's child abuse or something. Where I am from you go to a $20/week mother's day out program for 3 hours twice a week, taught by 100 year old ladies and you are all set to be valedictorian:)

Ash Nicole said...

That's one of my favorite documentaries!

Sarah D said...

eek. $50 an hour is insane! And the preschool teachers are probably living paycheck to paycheck and babysitting to make ends meet!
Honestly, I wouldn't even think about preschool until age 3 anyway. Kids have plenty of time (too much, IMO) to be in structured group settings anyway. Enjoy his toddlerhood and be free to do what you like while you can! Cooking is fabulous, as are sensory activities (sand, beans, rice, shaving cream, playdough). or just go for a walk and talk about what you see! Its fall now, go walk and hunt for signs of fall- collect some leaves and acorns in the park. I wouldn't over think things.

Sarah D said...

Stehpanie, I'm also in the Boston area and work in education... age 3 is perfect age to start preschool. You really don't need it any sooner! My kids went two mornings a week at age 3, 3 mornings at age 4, then kindergarten. And, are MORE than prepared for school. There's really nothing that happens in a toddler program that you can't do yourself at home. That's not to bash toddler programs- some are wonderful. But, they are NOT necessary for all families!!

photography by sarah davis said...

Using a white oil pastel on paper and then panting with watercolor over top of it is SO FUN for kids. Since the oil pastel blocks the watercolor these beautiful (and magic looking!) white lines appear as they paint! It teaches them a little tiny bit of science and the process looks lovely even if it's just scribbles.

Jennifer Bailey said...

Have you tried Gymboree Play and Music? They have Play, Music, and Art classes for babies and toddlers. Right now they have a great deal going on for the month of October, only $49 for your first month. :)

Regan Cafiso said...

Making playdough is always fun. With my 2 and 4 year old, I make two different kinds that smell and look like cookie dough. (No, they don't try to eat it.)
Chocolate-Peppermint: http://thecreamline.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/chocolate-peppermint-playdough/
Gingerbread: http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/blog/2011/12/gingerbread-playdough/
Get some rollers, cookie cutter, baking sheets, etc.

Ann said...

The whole nursery school thing gives me palpitations. That's one of my biggest anxieties about coming home from Japan, our baby would be at that age. I am not sure I want to go back to NY to deal with it! I have friends who have gone through it and even as an "alum" of certain programs (which is ridiculous, we are talking nursery school people) I see them so stressed about getting their children matriculated. Even unborn children! I know people dread the word but I think you can homeschool a far more enriching program by visiting and acquiring memberships to the Natural History Museum, the CP Zoo and the Met which even has great programs for kids. Just doing activities like Toby is, cooking and measuring, teaches so much. And as a previous poster mentioned the gymboree programs are great. I took a family friend's daughter to one on the UWS when I was in college and it was actually totally fun! I just remind myself that for kindergarten they need a few basic skills they are probably getting at home like numbers, colors, etc. And I refuse to buy into the anxiety about matriculating into the right nursery school for the right prep school. And didn't "Nursery University" remind you of "Best in Show" when the parents would talk about their children?!

Terri Thompson said...

So cute! We do preschool at home and I find that cooking and art activities are always a favorite. Finger painting, apple printing, any sensory play or active play is always a hit. I've got tons of ideas on my blog: http://creativefamilyfun.net

Alli said...

Oh my goodness $53 an hour? For Pre-School?! In Australia pre-school is free & they guarantee your kid a place at the one closest to your house.
At $53 an hour, I'd most certainly be home schooling too!

nina corvallo said...

I live in lower Manhattan as well and we have a 5 month old baby, thus am very aware of the cost of childcare & education. Thank you for sharing your solution. I love it and it looks like Toby does too!

gec said...

One of my favourite activities in kindergarten was making an abstract painting with marbles...

We would each get a big shallow box of some kind (e.g. a fruit box, though I'm sure some of the sizes Amazon uses would work), with a big sheet of paper in (this used to be an old type of printer paper, but printed or unprinted newsprint or anything else is fine). Then there were containers of paint (regular paint mixed from powder and water) and each container had some marbles in, with spoons for us to get the marbles out with. Then you put a marble in your box, and rolled it around so that it draws lines on your paper. After you've done it with a few different colours and repeated the process as many times as you'd like, you have an abstract painting! :)

C.Bernadette said...

these are great ideas! Mine is only 15 months, but he still needs to get out of the house and do things often:) My neighbor and her son and I take them to Museums in LA-we have this guide that tells us which days are free in the month, so we do those visits to save money, and then we do a lot of park days and in Venice(where we live) there are tons of things to do like Library story time, books and cookies and movie nights on the walk streets.

Ginger said...

There's a great book called "Slow and Steady Get Me Ready" by June Oberlander that has an age-appropriate activity for every week.

Such a sweet idea! As wonderful as preschool teachers are, they have several (at best) children to care for and the attention of a friend is even better!

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Avery Schlacter said...

I love these ideas to keep toddlers busy so they aren't always running around getting into stuff. I'm hoping I can find some toddler programs in Minnesota.

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