I have a "love-hate" relationship with toddler learning games. I love to know that my kids are getting some kind of knowledge or skill out of something they like doing. But, I hate ALL of the PIECES! There are memory game cards, and puzzle pieces, and little blocks ALL OVER my house. We get a new game or puzzle and they play with it once or twice and we are super careful to get it all put back together and put away. But then pretty soon I'm finding a card to the newest memory game chewed up by the dog on the front porch, or a puzzle piece in the laundry. It makes me crazy!
I don't know how to solve this problem without spending all of my days putting puzzles back together and re-organizing toys OVER and OVER and OVER. But I do know that I want my kids to have a little bit of independence and to learn to take care of their things themselves and I want them to have puzzles. And while I think it will probably be several years still before we make much progress in that area, I have noticed that there are a few things that seem to help. So I suppose my goal is to minimize the mess, while still allowing them some exploration and the chance to learn through play.
They do SO much better with the board puzzles (I don't know what they are really called- but you the know ones where all of the pieces fit inside a big board?). Like THIS...
I think it helps to simplify the "putting away" process when putting the shapes or letters in their places is part of the fun.
I also LOVE the toys/games that are made of wood. The cardboard/paper stuff gets chewed on by the baby and ruined way to easy.
So one of my latest lasering projects is to make durable and all-in-one games/puzzles/toys for toddlers out of wood....because I have toddlers at home, and that's what we do.
Another of my "toddler-learning-game" pet peeves is the memory game. Maybe it's just because I'm a little OCD, but I hate lining up a bunch of cards in nice straight even rows on the floor only to have some little person bump them with their hand or foot and scatter the little annoying cards across the floor. I've tried playing the game up to the table, but that doesn't usually work either so I made a "Memory Game" Puzzle. Now all of the little pieces have their place and it can be played on the couch or on floor or in the car.
This is just the beginning of my wooden toddler toy/game plans and I'm super excited about it. The Shape and ABC Puzzles are now available HERE and the Memory Game will be available to order SOON!
I didn't really ever "out-grow" scavenger hunts. In fact, I might be just a little obsessed with them. I love hunting for "treasure" just as much now as I did when I was little. But for me now, the "treasure" is finding thoughtful notes and meaningful gestures from loved ones. And even more fun than doing the searching...is planning the hunt!
I first started making what I call "Puzzle Scavenger Hunts" when I was in college. My first one (for a roommate's birthday) was a picture and a quote about friendship glued to a piece of cardboard from a cereal box. I hand drew the puzzle pieces and cut them out with a razor blade (It took forever and was probably not so pretty.). I recruited a bunch of guys from our apartment complex to bring my roommate one piece tied to a rose randomly throughout the day. It was so fun!
So as Father's Day has approached this year I tried to think of a fun "gift" for my husband that our kids could really be involved in. I found a quote about Dad and turned it into a puzzle, but luckily this time I didn't have to spend hours cutting little puzzle pieces out of a cereal box by hand because laser engraving is AWESOME!
My husband will not be home for Father's Day on Sunday, so we planned our surprise for last weekend. I hand-wrote the kids' responses to the question, "What do you love about Dad?" on the backs of the puzzle pieces. Then, my oldest helped me think of places in the house to hide them and we wrote up clues together (the first few anyway...and then he lost patience and went to play). We put each puzzle piece and the next clue in 16 separate (and numbered for my benefit) envelopes.
While Dad was outside for a while, my 5-year-old and 3-year-old hid the envelopes in their spots. They couldn't stop bouncing in excitement while they waited for him to come in. When he did, the kids handed him an envelope with the first clue to start the hunt. The kids couldn't resist giving lots of hints and were so proud of the their hiding skills. They were hilarious! My husband loved it, the kids loved it, and they got so much more out of it than just buying a present at the store.
Feel free to use this scavenger hunt for YOUR Father's Day celebrations this weekend or....make up your own!
And in case you can't decipher the "answers" to my clues...here they are:
#1- The door Dad come through when he comes home.
#2- Inside one of Dad's shoes.
#3- Under the dining table.
#4- In the shower.
#5- Near the computer.
#6- Inside the dishwasher.
#7- Near (or inside, under, etc) the washing machine.
#8- In the car.
#9- In Dad's closet (or in his dresser).
#10- By Dad's razor.
#11- On the front porch (ya know the song, "From My Front Porch Looking In". Caleb had to have help with this one.)
#12- By the DVD's
#13- Under the couch cushion.
#14- In the freezer.
#15- In the bowl cupboard.
#16- Under Dad's pillow.
Also, I numbered my envelopes with the number of the place they were to hidden. So for example, clue #2 was inside envelope #1 which was hidden by the back door and clue #1 was in the envelope marked "Dad". I get easily confused, so this helped me keep them all straight. :)
You can also design your very own personalized puzzle HERE and we'll laser it up for you.
Happy Father's Day!
Today, we live in a very arrogant society. We seem to assume that we are better, smarter, and more "progressive" than those who have lived before us; That each generation has improved on the last in every way.
While we have certainly seen improvements in technology in the past hundred years, I believe that it's wrong to discount the lessons of our fathers, both of those more recently learned (by parents and grandparents) and of those from thousands of years ago (fore-fathers). What' s the famous quote? "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.." (George Santayana)
The problem is...if we don't know anything about the past, and about our ancestors, we can't possibly remember them. And therefore, we can learn nothing from them. I used to think of history and genealogy as a boring collection of dates and facts...and that is how it tends to be presented the majority of the time. But the reality is...those who came before us were REAL. They felt the same emotions we feel. They experienced pain and heartache; excitement and joy. They had failures and successes. They learned life lessons and made sacrifices for their loved ones.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I bought a piece of property with the remains of a cabin built by Mormon settlers in Missouri from 1837. Remarkably, it still stood and it fascinated me.
Even more amazing were the records and journal entries left behind by the newlyweds who lived there. I read everything I could find about Charles and Sarah Rich and they began to seem very real to me. I felt a connection to them despite living nearly 200 years apart. And so I started a project (www.heartsoffarwest.com) to collect stories of those living in this area at that time (to some of whom I am directly related).
I was reminded of the scripture in Malachi: "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
We NEED to know parents and grandparents. We NEED to know our ancestors. We NEED to know those who sacrificed their lives so that we could be FREE. It certainly takes some work on our part, but the lessons of history and the lives of those who have gone before us can and should have a great impact on our lives. Human nature has not changed. Throughout history we find patterns of success and failure that repeat over and over again. We have so much to learn and we truly are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we know nothing about them.
Our hearts will turn to our fathers when we catch a glimpse of what was in their hearts. Only then can we identify with those who’ve gone before us and the distance of generations that separate us will be no more...
our lives and our hearts woven together.
In case you missed it in my intro post, Caleb and I are expecting our 4th baby in January 2016. When we first found out, I was super excited to tell our kids because I knew they would be super excited too. I love celebrating special occasions and finding ways to make things just a little bit more memorable...so I started googling. And then I tried Pinterest in a search for fun and creative ways to tell the kids. I found nothing that sounded quite right (which is crazy, because Google and Pinterest combined know EVERYTHING and I am an expert internet searcher)...so I was forced to go it alone.
I stopped by the dollar store and picked up a package of balloons, a couple of baby bottle party favors, and a baby shower bingo game. While making dinner, I wrote up a quick little scavenger hunt. While Caleb gave the kids a bath after dinner, I hid the first two clues in the baby bottles, the third with the bingo game, and the fourth inside of a balloon. (I'm not going to lie....my original clues were NOT this pretty.:))
We gave the kids a gift bag with the first clue inside. It led them to the second clue which was in their room on one of their beds. The third was in the cup cupboard. And the fourth and final clue (inside the balloon because the kids like to refer to when they "popped out of my tummy") was in the bathtub.
I took a video of the whole thing, but despite my Google proficiency, I struggle with modern technological devices and apparently had my finger over the microphone for the majority of the video. SO SAD!
They were hilarious though. At one point my oldest was sure that the surprise was a bunny! And then when they figured out that the answer was "baby," it still took a while for them to get exactly WHERE the baby was at. Their reactions were priceless and it was so much fun. Love my kids!
If you too are looking for a fun way to "share the news" with your kids, Feel free to download the clues for the scavenger hunt below!
Strives to celebrates the every-day special moments. Seeks new adventures...