baby · Family · Learning · Life · Parenting · Play

Entertaining the Littles Without Losing Your Mind

I am not a Pinterest mom.

If you are a Pinterest mom – mad respect. Making homemade play-dough, slime and setting up activity stations are all well and fun for those with the patience to do so. I am not one of those moms.

Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my boys. If play involves learning something new, even better! But I’m a strong believer in free play. The ability to entertain oneself without a screen or list of activities is an acquired skill, and an important one at that.

corbinbatmanC, the four year old, excels at free play. He is the most imaginative, creative little dude. The plot lines and “stories” his action figures have are more intense than some movie scripts. Most stories as of late involve “getting Slimer” (thanks, Ghostbusters) or Joker, speeding off to save the day in the Batmobile he got for Christmas, and any other crazy thing he thinks up. Add his Raphael or Batman costume and he’s good to go for at least a couple hours. I won’t lie, he has an iPad and does his fair share of playing Angry Birds or learning games. He also has an affinity for Skylanders. His current favorite is “Pop Quiz” (Pop Fizz for those in the know). It’s all about balance. Excitingly, he’s old enough to do more hands-on activities, games and experiments without getting overly frustrated or losing interest in two seconds!

While shopping for the boys’ Christmas presents on Amazon.com (in pajamas with a cup of coffee), I was determined to find a gift other than toys that would get broken or lost within a week of unwrapping. Browsing the books, I ran across two books written by fellow Texas mamas:

“101 Kids Activities That are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!”
Holly Homer & Rachel Miller

“The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments”
Rachel Miller, Holly Homer & Jamie Harrington

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Y’all, these books are amazing. I bought both of them with a resolution to do one activity from each book every week. While C was at school, I prepped an activity for him called Baggie Maze, which entailed using cardboard, plastic straws, a marble and a plastic bag to create a maze that would challenge little hands to move the marble from one end of the maze to the other. When picking him up, I told him he had a special treat waiting for him at home. He loved it! His face lit up as he moved the marble around the straws and made it to the finish. I showed him the book and asked him if he wanted to do more fun activities and was met with a resounding “Yes!”

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This rare, cold Saturday in the Texas Hill Country was spent indoors, which was the perfect opportunity to try a simple science experiment – Bursting Soap Cloud. The question is simple – what happens to gases when they are heated? The fun is in seeing the results when a bar of Ivory soap is heated in the microwave. We had a blast watching the soap expand and create fun “clouds” in the glass dish as it spun around the microwave. C was very intrigued by how flaky the soap was afterwards and had fun breaking the peaks apart between his fingers.

I can’t wait to try this one out once the weather warms up:

Fizzing Sidewalk Paint – page 162  

This activity trumps ordinary sidewalk chalk with a little science magic by creating a chalk-based paint and then spritzing on a little fizz.  it all starts with pH.  When solutions that are pH base mix with an acid, action happens!

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I am looking forward to doing more activities in these books throughout the year and spending more quality time with my little man. Playing superheroes and make believe is not my cup of tea when it comes to motherhood (my tired mom brain just isn’t up for the imaginative challenge). These books are a great resource for how to learn through play with activities we can enjoy together, without having to spend hours on Pinterest looking for ideas. Less time spent surfing the web means more time with my kiddos.

And that’s always a good thing.

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