The Shape Game for Kids

One day I was perusing through the Children’s book section in the library and I saw the book Frida and Bear Play the Shape Game! by Anthony Browne and Hanne Bartholin. This book is about Frida helping Bear think of things to draw. In order to accomplish this, Frida draws a shape and gives it to Bear. Then she asks Bear to “Try to turn this shape into something.”

This book encourages readers and young artists to use their imaginations to get their creative juices flowing.

My son and I read this book one night before bedtime. He thought it was a neat book and suggested we play the Shape Game. This is exactly what we did.

I will show you how to play.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Writing Utensil such as Crayons, Markers, or Pencils
  • Boogie Board (this is what we used instead of Paper and Writing Utensils)

Directions:

  • Draw any shape you like on paper or on the Boogie Board.
I started the game by drawing this shape.
  • Give the paper to your child and ask them to make the shape into a picture.
My son said he turned the shape into the letter Q.
  • Now have your child make a shape.
My son drew this shape.
  • Tell your child to give you the shape and you will make a picture from it.
I turned the shape into a horse.

My son and I had so much fun with this activity. He did not want to stop. He was excited to see what I made from his shapes.

This activity is great for spatial awareness and creativity! It is also fun to play while waiting for food in a restaurant or in a doctor’s office.

I drew this banana shape.
My son turned it into a whale.
I drew this shape.

My son said “Mommy, I turned your arch into a cave.

Have fun with this activity and be creative!

Pool Boats

Pool Boats is a simple, yet scientific activity to do with kids inside or outside of the home. This activity came about because my son had a fever and could not go outside. Although he had a fever, he still had a desire to play. So, we did this activity.

A week prior, my son asked me for a bathtub boat but we did not have one at the time. So, I started doing research on how to make a simple DIY boat at home and came across this activity at the library. We had coins and aluminum foil at home and my son said “Let’s do this now!”

I encourage you to do this activity outside! It is more fun this way, in my opinion! Additionally it is a great activity to teach your child about buoyancy.

Let’s Get Started!

Materials:

  • Kiddie Pool or Bathtub filled with water
  • Coins
  • Four 12 x 12 inch (30.5 x 30.5 cm) sheets of aluminum foil

Method:

  • Fill the pool or bathtub with water.
  • Put a flat piece of aluminum foil in water, edge first, and watch what happens.
  • Crumble up the second piece of aluminum foil.
  • Drop the foil in the water to see whether it floats or sinks
  • Form another piece of foil into a boat to see whether it will float
Our crumbled foil and foil boat are floating
  • Put coins into your foil boat. Determine how many coins you can add to the boat before it sinks.
  • Redesign your boat with another piece of foil to see whether you can get more coins in before it sinks.
  • My son decided to destroy the boat to see if it would sink.
In this picture he destroyed boat and it did sink.

The Science behind this activity

  • Buoyancy is the ability to float.
  • To make an object float that would not normally, your child has to change its shapes so it pushes out its own weight in water.
  • A flat sheet of foil is denser than water and sinks if you put in the edge first.
  • When you change its shapes to a boat, it pushes more water out of the way and can float.
  • Adding coins to the foil boat increases the weight of the boat, and when it get too heavy, it sinks.
  • The crumpled foil traps air inside the foil ball and makes it buoyant.
  • Tell your child that life jackets work the same way.
  • Life Jackets keep you afloat in water because it contains a lot of trapped air.

Other Activities to try

  • Test the buoyancy of other materials such as wood, plastic, and rock.
  • Compare what happens when you put a water balloon in the pool versus an air-filled balloon the same size.

Have Fun Experimenting!

Salt and Fresh Water Experiment

It is warm outside and kids are going to the beach (where there is salt water) and the pool. Some kids may notice that they float better in salt water than in fresh water. After doing this experiment, your child will know why this occurs. Explore the difference in density between salt water and fresh water with this easy experiment. 

Let’s Get Started!

Materials:

  • 2 Glasses of Water
  • Salt
  • Spoon
  • Food Coloring
  • Ice
Materials for Salt and Fresh Water Experiment

Method:

  • Place a few ice cubes into one glass of water
Placing ice in fresh water
  • Add a few drops of food coloring into the ice water.
Adding green food coloring into the ice fresh water.
Observing how the green food coloring disperses into the fresh water.
  • Add several tablespoons of salt to the other glass of water and stir so it dissolves.
  • Add some ice cubes to the salt water glass.
Pouring salt into the other glass of fresh water
  • Add food coloring to the salt water and see what happens.
Adding food coloring to the salt water
The salt is causing the food coloring to float.
  • Compare the food coloring in the fresh and salt water.
Observe the difference.

Why it Works:

  • Saltwater is denser than fresh water because the sodium chloride is dissolved in it.
  • Specific amounts of salt water is heavier than the same volume of freshwater.
  • When salt is dissolved in water, like at the ocean, the salt adds to the mass of the water.
  • The salt makes the water denser than it would be without the salt.
  • When salt is dissolved in water, as it is in ocean water, it adds to the mass of the water and makes the water denser than it would be without salt. Because objects float better on a dense surface, they float better on salt water than in fresh water.

Have fun with this experiment!

10+ Activities that Teach Kids Colors in a Fun Way

Colors is a topic that all kids learn. My son learned his colors around 16 months with a combination of fun activities. I remember spreading out various colored poms poms on the floor and asking him to bring me specific colors. He got them all correct! He learned because I used in-depth fun learning to naturally expose him to it. In-depth learning is exposing your child to new concepts in various ways such as sight, hearing, and touch. The activities below will help you incorporate these types of learning techniques.

Let’s get started with learning colors in a fun way!

Sorting

Sorting is a great way for kids to learn colors. Below are some ways to accomplish this at home.

  • Gather various colored items in your home such as blue, yellow, green, purple, red etc.
  • Help your child to put all items of the same color together.
    • For example put all the red items together.
  • My son, Cory, likes to sort his toy cars and balls.
  • Make a game of it by racing all the green cars, then blue cars, and so on.
  • You can also create a ball race between the various colors.
My son sorted balls and made each Black Panther Action Figure guard them.

Color Day!

Pick a color day in your household.

  • Pick a day where everyone in the family wears the same color clothes.
  • Everyone can wear the same color shirt, pants, or socks.
  • This activity is like St. Patrick’s Day where everyone wears green.
  • However, you will pick a different day of the week to wear a certain color.
  • For example, on Monday everyone wears a blue shirt and then on Tuesday everyone wears a red shirt.
These children are having a Blue Day!

Pick the Color

This activity was actually how I found out my son knew all his colors. This is a fun one for the kids.

  • You may use various colored items such as pom poms, crayons, balls etc.
  • We used poms poms for this activity.
  • Spread them on the floor.
  • Ask your child to bring you various colored items. For example say to your child…
    • “Please give me the blue poms poms”
    • “Please bring the yellow poms poms”
  • Optional: you may alternate roles with your child and have them ask you to bring them certain colored poms poms.

Call It in the Real World

Children don’t have to be in school or at home to learn colors. It can be done anywhere. Try the activities below…

  • While you are outside, pick a color you will identify such as green.
    • Identify with your child green grass, cars, and tree leaves
  • While running errands, identify various colors on signs or advertisements
  • While at the grocery store, identify various colors of fruits and vegetables.

Color Hunt

This activity encourages children to get physical and learn simultaneously.

  • Hide the same color items in one room or all over your home.
  • Have your children find the items you just hid and identify the colors.
  • Optional: You may hide different color items around your home as well.

Digital Media

My son and I love watching educational videos on our television. At times after dinner, we dance, sing songs or just watch videos about colors from YouTube. Below are YouTube videos about colors.

Paint

Being able to use colors to create pictures is a great learning tool for children.

  • Once your child learns certain colors have them paint a picture using that color.
  • You may also create stories using the picture.
    • For example, paint a yellow stick man playing with a blue stick man and write a story about it.
My son’s finger paint art work of the beach.

Make Color Potions

Making potions is a great hands-on activity for kids. Below is how to do it.

  • Make a simple potion by mixing glitter, various food coloring, vinegar, and baking soda.
  • Your child will see bubbles while creating this chemical reaction.
My son making a colorful potion.

Make Slime

  • Mix water, cornstarch and washable paint until it feels like glue.
  • You may use food coloring instead of paint.
  • Let your child play in the slime.
Red Corn Starch Slime

Books with Movement

Before my son knew the colors, I would go to the library weekly and get books about colors. Reading a variety of books about colors helped my son see colors from many perspectives. Don’t just read books, but get physical as well. Once you read about a color in the book, look around the room or your home and try to find that color.

Below are 10 great books to read to your child about colors

Melissa and Doug Sort and Snap Color Match

The Melissa and Doug Sort and Snap Color Match was given to my son as a birthday present. Your child will be able to create various colorful pictures using boards and snap caps. It is an interactive educational tool that is great for color recognition, sorting, and beginning math skills. Cory liked creating the pictures. It is a good way to supplement your child’s exposure to colors.

Cory completed a picture of a caterpillar with colors.

Have fun with these activities!


Invisible Ink Writing/Drawing Activity

One day, I was looking at the book, Crafty Science by Jane Bull. It has a bunch of STEAM projects for children to create at home. I showed my son the Invisible Ink activity and he said “Let’s do that mommy.” We looked around the house and gathered the materials.

I thought this would be a great drawing and writing activity for my son. He ended up writing numbers. This is a great project to expose your child to literacy and science. If your child is learning how to read, write words that will challenge them to use phonics or sight words. The science in this project is explained at the end of this post.

Let’s Get Started!

Invisible Ink

Materials:

  • Lemon
  • Bowl
  • Paintbrush or Cotton Swabs
  • Paper
  • Iron (for adult use only)
Materials for Invisible Ink Activity.

Method:

Squeeze a lemon into a bowl

Write your secret message on the paper in lemon juice using a paintbrush or cotton swab.

Draw quickly in order to check your work before it dries. It does not have to be as dark as the picture below. My son insisted on going over the numbers numerous times so he could see it.

To get the message, an adult should iron the paper with a hot iron until the message comes through

Warning:

  • This activity may stain your iron with brown spots. This happened to me. I was able to get my iron squeaky clean by following the video below.

Why this activity Works:

  • This works because lemon juice is an acid.
  • When it is put on the paper, the acid destroys some of the paper surface.
  • When you heat it up with the iron, the areas with the message turn brown first.
  • Milk also works with this activity because it is slightly acidic.

Have fun with this simple activity!

Car Wash Fun for Kids – The Ultimate Learning Activity

My son loves to play, build, and race his toy cars. One day, I asked him if he wanted to have a car wash after seeing this activity on the Internet. I remember looking at this activity and thinking this would be a great idea for a kid who likes cars.

I had several reasons for suggesting the car wash. First, this activity was a fun way to encourage my son to practice his penmanship. The weekend we did the activity, it was raining. I was trying to find something hands-on to do in the house; although, a car wash is really fun when doing it outside on a sunny day. Furthermore, I wanted to incorporate three things that interest my son which are cars, counting, and getting messy.

Our Car Wash incorporated fun and so many aspects of hands-on learning. I thought I would share this activity with you so your kids can have as much fun as my son.

Let’s Get Started

Materials:

  • Big sheet of poster board or white craft paper
  • Toy Cars
  • Markers
  • Painters Tape
  • Towels (3)
  • Wash Cloth
  • Cash Register or Play Money (You may also make your own play money)
  • Two Rectangular Plastic Containers
  • Water
  • Dish Detergent
Some of the materials for the Car Wash

Preparation:

  • Have your child decide the Car Wash Prices.
  • If your child can write, have them write the car wash prices on the poster board or white craft paper.
  • My son decided to give each color car a different price.
  • If your child can’t write, you may create the Car Wash Price Sign for them.
  • You may have your child draw the various colored cars on the sign.
  • I created a template on construction paper to assist my son in organizing the Car Wash prices on the white craft paper.
My son writing the Car Wash Prices using the template I created on pink construction paper.
Continuing to write the prices
Car Wash Price Sign is complete.
  • Tape the Car Wash Prices to a wall where it is visible for customers.
Car Wash Prices taped to the wall.
  • Get the toy cars, cash register, wash cloth, and towels
  • Lay the towels on the floor if you are doing this in your home.
  • If you are outside, then you can skip this step.
  • Fill one rectangular plastic container with dish detergent and water halfway.
  • This is where you will wash the cars
  • Fill the other rectangular plastic container with water.
  • This is where you will rinse the cars.

Now the Car Wash can Begin!

  • Have your child role play the Car Wash owner.
  • You or your child’s siblings and/or friends can play the customers.
  • As a customer, get some play money so you can pay to get your car washed.
  • I started off with $30.00 divided into (10) one dollar bills, (2) five dollar bills, (1) ten dollar bill
My son giving me money to start the Car Wash Activity.
  • Have your child say the following:
  • “Welcome to the Car Wash, how may I help you?
  • You will respond by saying the following…
  • Yes, I would like to have my yellow cars washed please.”
  • Then your child will look at the poster they made to see how much it costs to wash the yellow cars.
  • On our poster, it costs $2.00 to wash the yellow cars.
  • I had three yellow cars, so I gave him $6.00 with (1) five dollar bill and (1) one dollar bill
Exchanging money during the Car Wash Activity
  • Sometimes I gave him more money than the cost of washing the car so he could practice his subtraction skills and give me change.
  • After giving my son the money, he took the cars and washed them.
  • He washed them in the soapy water container and then put them in the container with water to rinse.
  • Next he put them on the towel to dry.
My son washing the cars.
My son rinsing the cars.
  • We kept repeating these steps until all the cars were washed.
  • Another time we did this activity, I was the Car Wash Owner.
  • We have also done this activity where my son was the Cash Wash Owner for the red cars but I was the Cash Wash Owner for the blue cars.
  • In other words, we were alternating roles.
  • Tailor this activity to your child’s ability by doing the following…
    • Have your child wash only one car at a time so they don’t have to do any subtraction or addition.
    • Only give your child one dollar bills so they can practice counting by ones.
    • Make all the car wash prices the same to make things easier.

Subjects Learned in this Activity

Color Recognition

  • Sort the cars by colors.
  • Make different prices for each color car.
  • You may also have a car wash with one color car like the red cars.

Math

  • Adding the costs to wash multiple cars.
  • Subtracting when the customer gives the Car Wash Owner too much money and change is needed.
  • Multiplying the cost when multiple cars with the same price are needed to be washed

Science

  • We had some cars that would float in the water and some that would not
  • We discussed that cars with less density than the water will float.
  • Cars with more density than the water will sink.
  • We reviewed the word buoyancy, which is the ability to float in water.
  • You may discuss the science of soapy water and how it cleans the cars.
    • Soap attaches to dirt and grease and causes it to be pulled off the toy cars and suspended in the water

Writing

  • My son was able to practice his handwriting skills in creating the Car Wash Price Sign.

Customer Service

  • Teach your child the importance of being nice and respectful to their customer.
  • Also ensure your child knows to clean the cars well so the customer is happy.
  • If the customer is happy then they will bring more customers.

Entrepreneurship

  • Explain to your child that Entrepreneurs own businesses and their purpose is to solve problems or make things better.
  • A great business has happy customers who will tell others about their service or product.
  • Take your child to a real Car Wash and show them it is a Real Business.

Have fun with this activity and make this your own!

Happy Learning!

Celery Experiment – How Plants Get Water

Spring is here and many kids are helping their parents and teachers grow plants and flowers. One of the most important jobs in growing plants is to water them regularly. My son helps my husband water the garden. As a result, by July, we have vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans.

This Celery Experiment is great way to show kids how plants get water from their roots up to the leaves. At the end of the post, I will explain why this experiment works.

Let’s Get Started!

Materials:

  • Glass Jar or Drinking Glass
  • Celery
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Knife
Materials for Celery Experiment

Method:

  • Gather the materials
  • Cut about one inch off the bottom of the celery stalk.
Here I cut about one inch off the bottom of the celery.
  • Fill the drinking glass halfway with water.
  • Put a few drops of food coloring into the drinking glass.
Putting drops of food coloring into glass


My son chose to put red and blue food coloring in the glass.
Mixing the food coloring together
  • Place the celery stalk in the colored water and let it sit over night.
We put the celery in the glass
  • Rip open the celery to see how the color travels throughout the stalk
Food coloring on the celery’s rib.
  • You should see that the food coloring has traveled to the leaves.
The food color traveled to the celery’s leaves

Why it works:

  • When you water a plant, the roots absorb the water from the soil.
  • The tiny tubes in the celery or plant stem, called xylem, draw the water up from the roots like a straw.
  • This process is called Capillary Action.
  • Capillary Action happens when water climbs up the tiny tubes.
  • The water droplets stick to the walls of the tubes and go upward.
  • The water sticks to itself and pulls more water as it climbs up.
  • Capillary Action lets water climb up to the various parts of a plant through the xylem tubes in the stem.

Have fun with this experiment!

Happy Learning!

Tips for Potty Training

I remember being afraid of potty training once I became pregnant, even though I was a little prepared. My previous job allowed me the pleasure of working with seasoned career women who were mothers. They often reminisced about their potty training days. Through those conversations, I was prepared for pee and poop accidents at home, in public, and in the bed. It seemed that this is something most parents go through.

As a Mental Health Therapist and Social Worker, I worked intensely with a girl diagnosed with Autism, from the of ages 2-4. My job was to help her adjust socially in the classroom with other kids. I would go to her preschool and spend 4 hours observing and playing with her and other kids. I, along with her parents and teachers, also helped to potty train her.

Now that I am a mom, I have the experience of potty training my son, Cory, as well. I want to share with you what I have learned in the process. My big take away is RELAX- they will learn.

What is the normal age for potty training?

The normal age for potty training varies. My daycare provider told me the appropriate age is 2-years-old. However, did you know that in the 1940’s, the average age was 18 months?

I started introducing my son to potty training at 21 months. The book, Oh Crap Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki, says it is easiest to start between the ages of twenty and thirty months. The way I introduced my son was sitting him on the Elmo potty when I thought he would need to urinate.

What are the signs that your toddler is ready to potty train?

According to Huggies Pull-Ups, there are six signs for potty training readiness:

  • Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper
  • Hiding to pee or poop
  • Interest in other’s use of the potty, or copying their behavior
  • Awakening dry from a nap
  • Telling you that they are about to go, are going, or have gone in their diaper.

What is the best way to potty train?

According to BabyCenter.com, the best way to potty train is as follows…

  • Let your child watch and learn
  • Buy the right equipment
  • Help your child get comfortable with the potty
  • Motivate with cool or fashionable underwear
  • Set up a training schedule
  • Set aside naked time
  • Celebrate victories
  • Keep trying
  • Bring fun into the process
  • Ditch the Diapers

Below is how we incorporated the points above in our potty training process.


Observation

This can begin before you officially start potty training. Have you ever been out shopping or in the airport with your baby/toddler, and you need to use the public bathroom? Parents usually have their child in the bathroom stall with them and this gives the child a chance to observe you.

Once my son was around 20 months and aware of the difference between boys and girls, I would put a large towel around me while using the bathroom. This way, he was able to see me use the bathroom but not see my lady parts. In a public place, I wouldn’t have a towel so I would use my shirt, hunch over, or rest my forearms on my thighs as a cover.

Cory also observed my husband, Don, use the bathroom. Don would pick Cory up after work everyday from daycare and have him use the restroom at home. It was during these times, my son realized that girls and boys urinate differently.

Tools

Child-Size Potty

Arm yourself and child with the right equipment when potty training. We used the Elmo potty for two reasons. Three Elmo potties were given to us as gifts during our baby shower and Cory loved this Sesame Street character, Elmo. When he saw the potty, he was excited to sit on it and loved the flushing sound it made.

This potty is great because it is the perfect size for kids and it encourages them to lean forward slightly with their feet on the ground when it is time to poop. An adult size toilet can be intimating for kids because it is big and some kids are afraid they will fall in.

Please use the potty that is best for you and your child.

Insert or Adapter Seat for Toilet

You may also purchase a more portable-friendly potty seat like the Travel Portable Useable Toilets Seats. We used these but my son liked the Cozy Green Seat better. Even though it is big, I put it in my baby book bag and carried it with me in public.

The adapter seats are great to use when you are out in public. It should fit on the toilet securely and be comfortable for your child to sit on. We used the Cozy Green Seat around the house and while out in public. It is a little large but it provided the best experience for my son. I have also seen the Baby Boy Potty Training product that many parents find helpful. I have never used it because it was available after my son was potty trained.

Step Stool

Step stool is needed so your child can get on and off the adult toilet. This also assists your child when they have to wash their hands. Typically, at the beginning of potty training, they are short and their little hands will not reach the sink. Your child can also put their feet on the stool while using the adult toilet in order to stabilize themselves.

Books

Books are great to use when potty training your child. They help aid your child in understanding what other kids do while going through the process. Read books to your child while they are on the potty. You may also give them books so they can independently look at the pictures. We also read books during naps and before bed time at night and talked about what the character was doing. We compared the character’s actions to my son during the potty training process.

Examples of books are…


Examples of Cartoons are:

Fun with Potty Training

One way I made potty time fun for Cory was to pretend the toilet was a person. I know this may seem gross but it worked. When we first started potty training, Cory was introduced to Mr. Toilet. Mr. Toilet does not eat food like boys, girls, mommies and daddies. He drinks pee and eats poop. If Mr. Toilet does not drink or eat then he will be sad.

This gave my son a connection to the toilet. He was concerned when Mr. Toilet did not eat or drink but when he did, my son was excited.

Mr. Toilet may not work for you, however, come up with your own stories. Create it so your child will have a connection with the potty.

Set a Schedule

Most children do well with schedules because they know what is coming next. This logic applies to potty training as well. Before establishing my own schedule, I talked to my daycare about providing consistency for Cory. We also coordinated together when he would transition from pull-ups to underwear.

A great potty schedule to follow is have the child use the bathroom before and after breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. Other times were before and after he woke up from nap and sleeping for the night. Cory has never wet the bed and this is because he uses the bathroom beforehand daily.

Semantics and Be Clear

One detail I have noticed about many toddlers is that they take what you say literally. For example, if you tell a toddler it is raining cats and dogs, and this is the first time they have heard this, they may look in the sky for cats and dogs. I made sure to tell Cory exactly what I needed him to do during potty training. Instead of telling him to “Pull your pants down,” I would ask him to “Push your pants down.”

Another example is instead of telling a child to “flush the toilet,” tell them to push the handle down on the toilet until they see the water go down. This only needs to happen as the child is learning. Once the child knows what to do, you can simply instruct them to flush the toilet.

Give Your Child Time to be Naked

Letting your child go naked or semi naked is a great way to introduce them to the potty. You don’t have to do this but I freed up a Friday and Saturday to accomplish this. During this time, it was cold outside so he didn’t go completely naked. He had on a shirt and my old socks, with the foot section cut off, on his legs to keep them warm. Another option is to use baby leg warmers to prevent their legs from getting cold.

We played with his toys and I had his Elmo potty beside us while playing. I watched for signs that he had to go to the bathroom like squeezing his legs together and then I put him on the potty. Sometimes we got to the potty in time and sometimes we didn’t. I knew I would do a lot of cleaning that day but I was prepared for it.

There was a benefit to doing this because he learned that pee and poop go in the Elmo potty. However, the only drawback is he had to go back to daycare on Monday, which caused him to lose some of his skills. He would not be able walk around naked at daycare.

I think if you are a stay-at-home mom, this method may work better for you. If not, as least you can do it once your child is home in the evening.

Patience

Patience is the most important part of potty training. Most parents should know before doing it, that there will be accidents.

Children are learning so many different skills while potty training from gross motor skills to language. It is sometimes hard for us adults to learn one thing at time let alone multiple. Because of this fact, some kids will experience regression. For three days your child may be dry, and then the next two days, they have accidents back to back. Stay calm and have a system in place.

If there was an accident at home, then we would soak his clothes in a bucket with water and detergent. If there was an accident in public, which this rarely happened, then I had disposal diaper bags, where the wet clothes would go. The next step would be to wash your child off and put on dry clothes.

Bring Extra Clothes Always

Even though I have conquered the potty training days, I still take extra clothes with me everywhere we go. You never know when there will be an accidental spill while eating at a restaurant. Bringing extra clothes is extremely important while potty training, even if your child is in Pull-ups. Being prepared helps to bring your stress level down and allows you to be calm for your child.

Don’t compare your child to other children

One of my biggest take aways is not to compare your child to other kids. Sometimes, when we find out another child is fully potty trained, it makes us as parents feel uneasy. We then transfer these feelings to our kids through anger and frustrations when they have accidents.

It makes the child feel nervous when they have an accident which is essentially a mistake. When we learn something new, we have to make mistakes because that is an indication that our brains are stretching. Once your child’s brain makes internal connections that pee and poop go in the potty, then they will be potty trained.

But it is ok to talk to other parents

I remember debating whether to send my son to daycare with underwear instead of pull-ups. I wasn’t sure so I asked my friend who was potty training her son simultaneously. It was helpful to talk to her because our sons were showing similar signs of potty readiness. From that conversation, I decided it was ok to send the underwear. It is ok to talk to other parents but don’t put extra pressure on your child if they are behind another kid. Just know that when your child shows similar signs to the children ahead of them, then you can adjust your approach.

Being around older children

My son went to a daycare where he was the youngest. He constantly observed older children going in the bathroom. He was conscious of what they were doing because he observed my husband and I use the bathroom. One day he said he is going to the bathroom like one of the older kids in the daycare.

If your child has older siblings then that is an advantage because big sisters and brothers can lead by example. If there are no older siblings, then parents leading by example will do just fine. Also reading the books mentioned in this article helps because the characters in the stories can be great role models for your child.

How boys are different and what to do

Boys usually start potty training by sitting on the toilet to urinate; however, they eventually learn to stand up. I wasn’t sure how to teach this to my son so my husband was a big help. My husband picks my son up from daycare and brings him home. Once they take off their jackets and shoes, they would go to the bathroom. I could hear my husband downstairs showing and instructing my son on what to do.

If there is no husband or close male figure available, don’t worry, I personally know plenty of moms who potty trained their boys on their own.

Teach boys how to put toilet seat down now

One aspect of potty training that most people don’t talk about is teaching boys to put the toilet seat down. My husband always puts the seat down and has encouraged me, through his interactions with my son, to teach him as well. It makes it so much easier for the women and girls in the household. Don’t forget this part, boys can do it!

Accidents in bed

Although my son never peed in the bed, I was still prepared. The first night he slept in his underwear, I put bed wetting pads on the mattress. I remember being so nervous that night waking up every two hours to check if the bed was wet. The thought of my son sleeping in wet clothes all night made me feel uneasy.

I also had spare sheets ready to put on the bed in case of a bed wetting accident. The best way to ensure your child will be dry in the morning is to have them use the bathroom just before going to bed. Also, do not let them drink anything at least 2 hours before bedtime.

My Overall Experience

Potty training was a good experience once I accepted that there would be accidents and that my child needed to take time to learn this new skill. Having a schedule and plan of action in case of any mishaps was helpful was well. My son was fully potty trained around 30 months. He did a great job going through the process and so will your children!

Happy Training!

4 Games/Activities that Teach Kids Manners

Many parents are successful at teaching their children manners through modeling the behavior or reminding kids to use them. This post brings a fun, hands-on approach to teaching manners. The games/activities below can be a supplement to what you are already teaching your children at home. These are great group activities to play with young kids. I hope you find these helpful!

Let’s get started!



Please and Thank You Game

The following game will teach your child when to say Please and Thank you.

Materials Needed:

  • 3 Stuffed Animals or 3 Action Figures
  • Tape
  • Paper
  • Scissors

  1. Explain to your child that Please should be used with any request such as…
    • When your child wants a drink
    • They should say “May I PLEASE have a drink?”
    • If the child is very young then they can say “Drink, please.”
  2. Explain to your child that Thank you is used when they receive an item, favor, or an act of kindness.
    • For example, children should use it when someone gives them a drink, a gift, or when they have visited someone’s home.
  3. Start the activity by having your child gather their stuffed animals and action figures.
  4. Cut 3 rectangles out of the paper.
  5. Write the word, Doing, on one rectangle and then tape it on the front of one stuffed animal or action figure.
    • The Doing toy’s job is to role play the scenarios with your child.
  6. Write the word, Thank you, on one rectangle and then tape it on the front of one stuffed animal or action figure.
    • The Thank you toy’s job is to say Thank you in the scenario if needed.
  7. Write the word, Please, on one rectangle and then tape it on the front of one stuffed animal or action figure.
    • The Please toy’s job is to say Please in the scenario if needed.
  8. Create four scenarios where the child will have to role play and identify when to use Thank you or Please like the examples below…
    • The Doing Toy just shared his snack with your child. (Answer – say Thank you)
    • The Doing Toy would like a banana. What should the toy say? (Answer – May I please have a banana?) (Another option is Banana please).
    • Your child spilled the Legos on the floor and the Doing Toy helped your child clean up. (Answer – say Thank you)
    • The Doing toy wants to play at the playground. What should the toy say? (Answer – Can you take me to the playground, please?)
  9. Role play the scenarios above (or scenarios you have created) one at a time with the toys and your child.
  10. Below is an example of how the role play should be played. Let use the first scenario as an example..
    • The child and Doing toy should role play the following scenario – The Doing Toy just shared his snack with your child.
    • Now the child should decide if the Thank you toy or Please toy is needed.
    • In this scenario, the child should get the Thank you toy to say Thank you to the Doing toy.
    • If your child is confused about whether to use the Thank you toy or Please toy help them to determine the correct answer.
  11. Repeat steps 9-10 with the scenarios given in number 8. You may also create your own scenarios.
The Manner Animals

Super V!

This activity gives kids a reminder to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze.

Material Needed:

  • The child’s arm
  1. Explain to your child that it is important to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs.
  2. Germs can cause others to get sick.
  3. The best way to stop the spread of germs is to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
  4. If you don’t have time to get a tissue, then use SUPER V!!!
  5. SUPER V is when you cough and sneeze into the inner crease of your elbow.
  6. When do you this, your arm forms the letter V.
  7. Pretend that you are sneezing or coughing and model to your child how to cover their mouth.
    • As you model how to cover your mouth, say SUPER V like it is a superhero!
  8. Have your child practice saying and doing the SUPER V mouth cover position.
  9. Every time your child really coughs or sneeze, say SUPER V!
  10. If your child is not into superheroes then create something else like the PRINCESS SHIELD to help them remember to cover their mouths.
Sick child doing the Super V

Excuse Me Game

This game will teach your child when it is appropriate to say Excuse Me.

Materials Needed:

  • Something that makes a loud noise like a bell, drum, whistle, or kazoo
  • Child’s stuffed animals, action figures, or other toys
  1. Explain to your child that Excuse Me should be used in the following situations
    • To get another person’s attention
    • When you need to get around someone and they are in your pathway.
    • When you have bumped into someone or accidentally stepped on their foot.
    • During an acceptable interruption
      • For example, if mom is talking to someone and the young child needs to go to the bathroom.
    • When you burp or pass gas
  2. After explaining step 1, role play the situations with your child (using yourself and child as the actors for practice).
  3. Next get your child’s toys.
  4. Give your child a loud noise maker of your choice such as a bell, drum, whistle, or kazoo.
  5. Use the child’s toys to role play each scenario in number 1 and scenarios where Excuse Me is not needed such as…
    • You give your child a snack.
    • Your child wants to go outside and play.
  6. After role playing each scenario with the toys, give the child two choices in which to respond…
    • If saying Excuse Me is an appropriate response to the scenario, then the child should use their noise maker and next say Excuse Me.
    • Is Excuse Me is NOT the appropriate response to the scenario, then the child can say NO!
  7. For example, you role play that one action figure burps and your child has a drum.
    • The child should play the drum and then say Excuse Me.
  8. Keep playing the game with various scenarios.

No Interruptions Game

This activity uses the concept of Shaping to teach kids to be patient while parents are talking to others in person or on the phone. Shaping is a technique many counselors use to teach kids new behaviors or skills. It allows you to build a desired behavior in children using small steps. Once the child has mastered a step, then move to the next one. 

Materials:

  • One of the child’s stuffed animal, action figure, or other toy
  • Timer
  • Pretend or toy telephone
  1. Explain to your child that interruption is when they talk while someone else is talking.
  2. Interrupting is considered rude unless it is an acceptable interruption such as…
    • You have to go to the bathroom
    • You or someone is hurt.
  3. Some kids interrupt their parents for attention or they think the conversation topic with the other adult is boring.
  4. Start the No Interruptions Game by getting your child’s toy and the telephone.
  5. Tell your child they can’t talk to you until the timer goes off.
    • If this is a struggle for them, suggest ideas to keep them busy like counting, playing with a toy, or just listening.
  6. Set the timer to 20 seconds.
  7. Pretend you are on the phone while the timer is going.
  8. After the times goes off, tell your child they can talk.
  9. If your child does NOT interrupt you within the 20 second period, then next time increase the time to 30 seconds and so on.
  10. Do this until you get to a desired time like 5 minutes.
  11. If your child talks to you before the timer goes off, then try the activity again with the timer set to a lesser time like 10 seconds and work from there.

I hope you find these activities helpful!

Happy Learning!

My Toddler Needs Glasses! What Do I Do?

The following is a guest post from my dear friend, Danielle Jerz. She is an attorney, wife, and a mom of two children, ages four and 1.

This post is a great guide on how to introduce our kids to new experiences in a fun and engaging way!

Does my child really need glasses?

My 3-year-old, DJ, needed glasses. He’d failed an eye test (common tests for toddlers include retinoscopy or Spot Vision Testing Camera) at his 12-month appointment, and a pediatric ophthalmologist suggested we check again 2 years later to see if his eye issues would self-correct. 

By 3, DJ was playing t-ball and soccer, he did not hold books too closely, he did not frequently rub his eyes, and he enjoyed learning in preschool. He never complained of difficulty seeing or of headaches, and he passed his visual acuity eye chart test. 

So, when we returned to the pediatric ophthalmologist shortly after his 3rd birthday, it came as a surprise to us that his vision issues had not, in fact, improved and that he needed glasses. His doctor told us that if he wore eyewear now, he might not need to in the future. So, we decided to give it a try. 

Our Concerns

Neither my husband nor I wear glasses, so we were entirely clueless about where to start. As a parent, a million thoughts went through my head: Will he wear the glasses? What will be the consequences if he refuses? Will he be embarrassed? Would he understand why he needed glasses? Will he be teased? The last question was of real concern since most of us know how upsetting childhood taunts can be. 

So, I started researching where many people start these days – GOOGLE. While there was plenty of information out there about children wearing glasses, most of what I could find was geared towards older, school-age children. But my child was a toddler or a young preschooler, with challenges and needs quite different than a child 3 or 4 times his age (a 9- or 12-year-old). 

How I Got my 3-Year-Old to Wear Glasses

I explained to DJ why he needed glasses. He seemed to understand, but when I asked him if glasses were cool, he matter-of-factly replied “no.” So, I slowly started to set the stage for DJ and his new glasses. Before he was even fitted for glasses, I tried to point out every adult friend, relative, stranger, cartoon character, or person in a television commercial who was wearing glasses. 

I would turn to DJ and enthusiastically say look: Aunt Angela is wearing glasses. Doesn’t she look cool? Or, look at the little boy on television with glasses. I think his glasses look so sharp. Or, (your cousin) McKenzi wears glasses, do you think they look really nice? And slowly but surely, his adamant “no’s!” became emphatic “yeah’s!” Glasses were cool!

My husband and I even ordered costume glasses to wear around the house, so they wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary. We wouldn’t announce that we were going to wear them. We would just put them on and wait to see if DJ even noticed. Surprisingly, he may have only asked about mom’s and dad’s “glasses” on one or 2 occasions. 

How We Found the Glasses

Because we knew next to nothing about purchasing eyewear, we decided to find an eyeglass store that carried a large variety of toddler-sized glasses. I didn’t know this at the time, but most eyeglass stores that you may find in a mall or big box retailer don’t carry preschool size glasses. You really need to go to a specialty retailer, so we chose My Eye Doctor. 

I knew I wanted something for DJ that would survive all the fun things that boisterous 3-year-old boys do, so I researched brands with light, flexible, and kid-friendly frames. I also wanted durable frames because I had a feeling DJ’s one-year old little sister might get ahold of them a time or 2, and I didn’t want her to accidently break them. 

At our appointment, the sales associate showed us some of the popular children’s glasses. I told DJ that he could pick out the color, but I would pick out the frame. I figured he might not be equipped to tell what styles fit well with his slender face, prominent chin, and large brown eyes, but he could have the freedom to pick the color since he would be the one wearing them every day. 

Perfect Match

DJ tried on and rejected several that I liked, but it was surprisingly easily to reach an agreement on color and shape. His Zoobug glasses came in a delightful blue – DJ’s favorite color. They have polycarbonate lenses and a scratch resistant coating and because they are a single rubber piece with no joints or parts to break, they are flexible enough to withstand all manner of contortions attempted by DJ’s little sister. 

The glasses came with a detachable headband and sliding earlocks to help them stay on. He could have chosen both, one, or none of them to use. DJ uses the earlocks that fit snuggly behind his ears and prevent the glasses from slipping forward. 

These are the glasses we chose.

Informing the School

I talked to DJ’s preschool teacher, Ms. Sherry, and informed her that he would start wearing glasses. I explained that we would have him wear them only at home for 2 or 3 days and then he would wear them to school. 

Ms. Sherry is a great teacher and was very receptive. She stated that she would help him keep his glasses clean and remind him to put them on if he took them off. She also liked my ideas about introducing the glasses to the class. 

Time to Party

When speaking with Ms. Sherry, I’d thought, what would be a good way to “show off” DJ’s glasses and answer any questions other students might naturally have about why he was wearing them. I know! We would have a GLASSES PARTY. The day DJ started wearing his glasses, I showed up to the preschool, glasses in hand, and armed with books about glasses, cupcakes topped with a little pair of glasses (who doesn’t love cupcakes??), and a pair of glasses for everyone! 

We read Arlo Needs Glasses by Barney Saltzberg and Philomena’s New Glasses by Brenna Maloney. To provide everyone with a fun pair of glasses, I’d simply gone to the closest dollar store and purchased enough sunglasses for each of DJ’s classmates and popped out the dark lenses. Voila! An affordable pair of glasses for every child! 

Success!

Much to my delight, the party was a big hit. The children were thrilled to wear their glasses. One of DJ’s classmates, Kyser, asked me if I’d brought him a case for his glasses so he could put them away. I apologized and told him that I had not, but to ask his parents. Sure enough, that evening, Kyser asked his parents for a glasses case and not only that, he wore the glasses to school the next day and for the next several weeks. 

In fact, Ms. Sherry, DJ’s teacher, reported that several of the children wore their party glasses (and still do) for several days after the party, and some even asked their parents if they could get real glasses (sorry parents!) because it was so cool. 

I realized that all my worry about teasing was just that – my own. I came to realize that my concerns were for naught and at that age group (3-4), glasses were cool! They love to read books and are curious to hear stories about new and different things and what makes everyone special and unique. 

Glasses themed party at preschool.

Our Life Now

DJ is now 4 years old and dutifully wears his glasses daily. At preschool, he takes them off when it’s time for recess and nap but otherwise wears them without protest. In fact, not long after he started wearing them, my husband realized he’d forgotten them at home after taking DJ to preschool. DJ immediately had a bit of a fit (“I can’t SEEEE!”) until Dad explained that he would go home to get the glasses, and all was well. 

Now his glasses are a part of his daily routine. He gets to school, puts his belongings away, washes his hands, and puts on his glasses. Like clockwork! We ask him about his glasses occasionally just to make sure they are still fitting and working for him. Santa even brought him a special case with his favorite superhero on it – Batman! 

Try these Steps for (Almost) Painlessly Getting your Toddler or Preschooler to wear glasses:

  1. Prepare your preschooler for wearing glasses. Explain why they need glasses. Don’t assume that they won’t understand. 
  2. Don’t share or show your concerns, fears, or insecurities with your toddler. I’ve learned from this experience that you may be worried for no reason. Even if you got glasses as an older, school-aged child, your toddler will likely have a different experience than you did.
  3. Introduce them to fictional characters who wear glasses. There is children’s programming featuring characters wearing glasses or that have episodes about getting glasses. For example…
    • One of the main characters on the show “Little Einsteins,” Leo, wears glasses. 
    • Arthur from the self-titled cartoon wears glasses.
    • In an episode of “Sid the Science Kid” (season 1, episode 13), Sid explores his sense of vision by trying on his grandma’s glasses. 
    • Clark Kent (AKA Superman) wears glasses.
  4. Read books such as:
  5. Talk about glasses and how they can help people see more clearly and how we can appreciate other’s differences.
  6. Research brands such as Tomato Glasses, Zoobug, and Solo Bambini for the look, affordability, and durability you think is best for your toddler/preschooler. 
  7. Allow your toddler/preschooler to be involved in the process of selecting his/her glasses. 
    • Does he/she have a favorite color? Toddler glasses often have multiple color options for frames, so ask if the styles you are considering come in different frame colors.
    • Let them pick out a case with a favorite character on it. Their glasses are special, so they deserve a special holder. 
      • We found DJ’s case on Amazon. 
      • Or take the (usually plain and simple) case provided by the eyewear retailer and decorate it! 
      • Allow your toddler/preschooler to color it with permanent markers or stickers to make it his/her own.
  8. Lay some ground rules: 
    • At the beginning, expecting your toddler to wear his/her glasses all day right away may be an unreasonable expectation and lead to needless tantrums and a battle of wills. 
    • In fact, your child may become averse to wearing the glasses at all! DJ’s ophthalmologist told us that often, toddlers refuse to wear them, and parents put the glasses away and try again in a year or 2. 
    • Of course, that is always an option, but I think there are other ways to get them to wear their cool specs!  I believe that until your toddler/preschooler is accustomed to them, you should set up reasonable expectations of wherewhen, and how oftenthey should wear their glasses. 
    • Questions to ask yourself?
      • Do you want your child to wear the glasses at home only? While at preschool or daycare? Only on the weekends? When they are permitted screen time? 
    • This trial period doesn’t have to last weeks or months. 
    • Slowly incorporate more time and encourage them to wear their glasses more often. 

You May Surprised

You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your toddler/preschooler is very receptive to your slow and steady encouragement to wear their glasses more often, or they may even ask you to wear them more frequently once they see how beneficial they are! DJ wore his glasses at home only during screen time and marveled at how his favorite cartoon character, Blaze from “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” looked. He did that for 3 days and then wore them to school with no complaints!