Toys that encourage creativity are a big part of childhood. My son used them to play, problem solve, build, and even to learn to read and write. However, not all toys are equal. There are some that will encourage your child to use their creativity and others that are limited in this area.
Toys where children are required to push a button are called closed-ended toys. They are fun but limit the child’s creativity and problem solving skills. A toy that plays a song after a child pushes a button teaches them cause and effect. This type of play is simple and straightforward.
However, if a child plays with blocks, they can build a tower, ramp, road, house, etc. It can also be used as an instrument or put together to formulate letters and numbers. Blocks can also be incorporated in pretend play. For instance, my son and I built a hospital and did a role play where he was the doctor and his stuffed animals were the patients.
Creativity and imagination are important in children’s lives because it will help them grow socially, intellectually, physically, and emotionally. It also aids them in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I have observed children planning and conversing with each other on how they will play with open-ended toys such as puppets and Play-Doh.
I have also noticed that open-ended toys are cost-effective. We tend to keep these toys for longer periods of times because they grow with the child. When my son was younger, he made simple towers with blocks. Now that he is older, his towers are taller and more complex.
So, if you want to encourage your child to be creative and keep them busy in a positive way, try these toys below.
One day my son, Cory, watched the Youtube personality, Ryan. He saw Ryan and his mom do the elephant toothpaste experiment. After watching, he said, “Mom, I want to do that!” So I watched the video with Cory and immediately started to write down the materials and directions.
We had everything needed for the experiment except dry active yeast. I purchased the yeast from Amazon because I figured Cory would want to do this repeatedly. The next day, the yeast came and we immediately started to make the elephant toothpaste.
The first time we did the experiment, we saw an explosion but the cup we used was too big. We decided to use a smaller cup because we wanted the chemical action to overflow out of the cup. The second time was “epic” according to my son.
I will show you how we did the experiment below. Your child will want to do this repeatedly so get ready.
Let’s Get Started!
½ cup of Hydrogen Peroxide
1 squirt of Dawn dish soap
5 drops of food coloring
15 ml of warm water
.25 oz Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
Goggles to protect eyes
Gloves to protect hands
Tell your child that they will create a fun foam explosion called Elephant Toothpaste.
Put on goggles and gloves
Put hydrogen peroxide in one of the cups
Add five drops of food coloring in the cup
Put a squirt of dish soap in the cup
In a different cup pour 15 ml of water.
Add the active dry yeast packet to the water and mix.
Pour the water and yeast mixture in the cup with the hydrogen peroxide mixture
Last week I told you about the Addition Bowling Game for Kids that my son, Cory, created. This game involved using Cory’s bowling play set to practice addition. You may also use paper cups if you don’t have a bowling play set. This activity allowed my son to review adding one and two digit numbers.
Cory created a second spin-off game that allowed him to practice adding three-digit numbers as well. I was impressed in the effort and thought he put into this game. I will show you how to play below…
In our household, we have something called “Creative Time.” This is when my son chooses an activity or a game he and I can play. This is my time to follow his lead in whatever creative project he wants to do.
This time, he pulled out his bowling game and said, “Let’s play!”
While playing the game we incorporated addition so my son could practice his math skills. If your child is not doing addition yet, use this game to practice counting and number recognition. Like all games we play, we had a blast!
Teaching children to ride a bike without training wheels is a milestone that most parents experience. It can be a daunting task for both the parent and child initially. However, once the child learns this skill, they receive some degree of freedom. The freedom to transport themselves from one place to another on a bike involves independence.
I love being outside and watching the neighborhood kids ride their bikes in groups. The kids seem so carefree.
When my son was two months old, I took him for a walk in the baby ergo. After five minutes, he was fast asleep. I could not help but observe the neighborhood kids riding their bikes while communicating to each other about their next destination.
I often thought my son, Cory, would learn to ride a bike without training wheels at seven or eight.
When my son was two-years-old, I saw my neighbor outside with her three-year-old son. He was riding a peculiar bike that I’d never seen before. It was a bike with no petals. I asked my neighbor about the bike and she said it was a balance bike. She said it is supposed to help children learn balance, which is the same skill needed to ride a bike without training wheels.
After our conversation, I immediately did a search on the Internet and found what she told me to be true. I hopped on Amazon, after speaking with my hubby, and ordered my son a balance bike with 12-inch wheels and a helmet.
When it arrived, my husband put it together. Then we went outside and took Cory, who was two-years-old at the time, to ride the bike for the first time.
How do you teach a kid to ride a bike?
Cory used his little feet to slowly walk the bike forward. Within a month and a half, he was able to balance himself on the bike. In the evenings, he would ride his bike while I told familiar stories such as The Three Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.
Below is a video of Cory riding the balance bike at two-years-old.
Below is a video of Cory balancing on the bike at three-years-old.
Cory spent the next year riding the balance bike, scooter, and occasionally his tricycle. He rode the tricycle, which was a gift from a family member, less than five times because he favored the balance bike and scooter.
My next thought was to get him a bike with training wheels. I figured this would help him learn to petal a bike with no training wheels. Again, he rode that bike less than three times because he liked the balance bike and scooter better.
Then my friend and her husband, Katy and Antonio, gave me the answer to my son’s next step in learning to ride a bike with no training wheels. My son went to Katy’s and Antonio’s house for a playdate with their children. I saw their six-year-old son riding a bike with no training wheels and I asked about their process in teaching him.
As they were observing Cory ride up and down the street on their daughter’s balance bike, Antonio said “Look at his balance, you don’t need a bike with training wheels.” He told me to get a small bike with no training wheels and use it to teach him how to petal. With the balance bike, Cory had already conquered the hard part which is learning to balance.
The next week I went to our local bike shop and traded in the training wheel bike (with 16-inch wheels) for a bike with no trains wheels (with 12-inch wheels).
How do you teach a kid to pedal?
I did three things to teach my son to petal. One was to have him observe other kids petaling. We observed kids in the neighborhood and watched YouTube Videos of children petaling their bike.
The second action was to lie on my back and show him the bicycling petal motion in the air. After demonstrating the move, Cory imitated me. He laughed and had fun while petaling in the air.
The final step was to practice on the bike. While he rode the bike, I was holding on the back while saying “Push, push, petal petal” in a rhythmic way.
A Little Bit at a Time
I used the concept ofshaping to teach my son to ride the bike. At first we practiced 15 seconds and the next time we increased it to 30 seconds. We gradually added on time each day we practiced. Within a week my son, at four-years-old, was riding a bike with no training wheels. He was so proud of himself!
Watch this video of Cory riding a bike with no training wheels.
We have now upgraded to a bike with 16-inch wheels. Cory is whipping through the streets and I am getting my work out in by running behind him.
Watch this video of Cory riding the 16 inch wheel bike. We forgot his helmet and started riding back home to get it.
Many parents have the following question: What age should a child be able to ride a bike without training wheels?
The answer to this question depends on the child. My son learned as a four-years-old. However, I have seen children learn as early as three and as late as teenagers. I think children are more motivated to learn when they see other kids riding their bikes.
I decided to teach my son to ride a bike because he balanced himself well on the balance bike. It was a natural progression to riding a bike with no training wheels.
Observe your child and decide when is the best time to learn. Have fun with this process!
I have always admired people, young and old, who can play the game of Chess. Throughout my life, I have heard the many benefits of playing this strategic game. Also, people who play Chess seem intelligent to me.
Honestly, I have tried three times to learn chess and failed. It was the time and energy it took to learn the name of the pieces and how they moved. I would read or watch online videos about the game and eventually become bored.
The idea of tackling Chess again came from my mother. One of her gifts for my son’s third Christmas was a Chess game. It was the same cycle again.
I read the book that came with the game she gave my son and I got bored. Additionally, I thought my son was too young to learn the game. However, in the back of my mind, I knew Chess would be a game that he would like because it challenges the brain.
My Bright Idea
My decision was to wait until he got a little older to introduce him to the game.
My future plan was to take him to some type of community program that would teach him how to play Chess. Then, maybe I would learn through him. This was a win-win situation!
It wasn’t until one night while skimming Facebook, I saw an advertisement for Story Time Chess.After seeing the advertisement’s picture of young kids playing chess with their parents, I wanted to learn more. On the website, I saw these words, “A revolutionary new game that lets you teach your child how to play chess as young as the age of 3!”
It is revolutionary because it teaches kids to play through fun stories with colorful diverse characters instead of rules. Each piece has a story about how it moves. Each piece holds a character’s picture from their story which allows children to visually connect it to the chess board and understand how to play.
Another helpful aspect of Story Time Chessis each story is concluded with a mini game that reinforces how the pieces move.
We love it! My four-year-old son and I learned how to play chess within a week and a half of opening the game! He was highly motivated to learn because of the engaging stories and pieces in the game. We currently play almost daily. Sometimes, he wins and other times I am the victor.
Watch the two videos below of my son and I playing chess. The first video is footage of us playing a game. The second one shows my son winning against me in the game of Chess.
Below I will answer frequently asked questions parents have about Chess. It will be through the lens of our experience.
What age can a child learn chess?
The programs that I have researched in my local area start teaching kids chess at the age of seven. However, I have seen kids learn chess as young as five-years-old. My son learned how to play through Story Time Chess as a four-year-old. However, if I’d known about this game earlier, our starting age would have been three.
If your kids love fun engaging stories with colorful characters, they can learn at an early age.
What is the easiest way to play chess?
Of course you know the easiest way for us to play chess was to learn through Story Time Chess. We learned how the pieces moved in this order: king, pawns, knights, rooks, bishops, and queen. There were mini games at the end of each story that gave us a hands-on perspective on how each piece moved.
The best way to learn is be consistent with playing. It is important to learn the basic steps first and then take it a step further by learning various strategies.
We play daily which helps to hone our skills and learn new strategies.
What Chess teaches?
Chess teaches children so many important skills. I will concentrate on three skills below.
Chess teaches kids problem solving skills. During our games, my son spends time concentrating on how to keep his king safe while capturing mine. I can see him thinking about and planning his next move.
It also increases your child’s creatively. There is one piece my son loves to use when capturing my king. When I take that piece away from him, he has to be creative and think outside the box to win the game.
Chess has improved my son’s memory and observation skills. I use a particular strategy to win games against him. One day, I noticed he began to remember my first three moves while playing. He told me what the moves were and asked why I always did that. Then he developed some strategy to counter my moves. Amazing!
This book gives children the history of soap, how it is made and why it works. We learned that before soap was invented, people used urine, incense smoke, clay, sand pumice, and ashes to clean themselves.
The pictures in this book are colorful and appealing to children. It will make your children laugh, say “ewwww”, and become more curious. The authors have included hands-on activities and tips that will further your child’s understanding of soap and its purpose.
One experiment we did involved ingredients you have in your home such as oil, water, and dishwashing liquid. It teaches kids why soap is a better cleaner than water by itself. My son learned that water and oil don’t mix, so washing with water only leaves most of the dirt behind.
I will show you the experiment and other discoveries we made.
Let’s Get Started!
Put cooking oil and water in a jar.
Screw on the lid and shake
The oil and water should separate into layers
Add drops of dishwashing liquid to the jar and shake again
This time it should make a cloudy mixture
Oil and water are no longer separate layers
Compare two jars.
One jar should have oil and water.
The second jar should have a mixture of oil, water, and dishwashing liquid.
Why this Experiment Works and How Germs are Washed Away
Most dirt contains oil.
Oil and water do not mix so washing with water only leaves most dirt behind.
Soap binds to water, dirt, and oil.
The tail of soap molecules attach to oil.
The head of soap sticks to water.
When soapy water mixes with dirt, the soap molecules form tiny clusters called micelles.
When you wash your hands with soap, dirt mixed with oil from your skin is pulled inside the micelles, then rinsed away.
In the experiment, the soap molecules grabbed the oil and water making a cloudy mixture in the jar.
Today I challenged my son to find something creative to do while I cooked dinner. He spent some time blowing up a balloon then watched it fly through the air after releasing it. He played with his cash register and a DIY water gun we made earlier that day.
Next he saw the book, Draw Alphabeasts by Steve Harpster laying on the table. He decided to view it while he ate a snack. This book teaches you step-by-step how to make over 130 monsters, aliens, and robots from letters and numbers.
I checked this book out from the library about a year ago. We enjoyed drawing the characters so much, that I purchased it from Amazon.
This month is October and I thought his book choice was great because Halloween is soon approaching.
My son, Cory, skimmed the book and decided to draw a monster named Zeep starting with the number 4. After drawing, he showed me his picture and I was very impressed.
Cory then asked if I was almost done with cooking. My reply to him was “yes.” He wanted to pick a character for me draw. He chose a character named Freddy Bones, who resembles a skeleton and robot simultaneously. Again, it was the perfect picture for Halloween.
Below is a picture of our drawings, along with the step-by-step instructions we followed from the book. This book is perfect for beginning artists and for those who just want to be creative.
Try these out. There are characters drawn from numbers 1-20 and the alphabet in this book. Buy this book if you want to draw more characters! I highly recommend it!
What do you do on the days when it’s raining or extremely hot or cold outside? You can do fun science experiments! Today my son and I decided to do a bubble experiment; however, there was something different about this one.
We all know that bubbles pop shortly after they are formed. This happens when the water between the soap film surface evaporates. We made bubbles that would NOT pop! It is called the unpoppable bubble!
Kids will be amazed at how difficult it will be to pop a bubble in this experiment. Try this activity for yourself and see your child’s amazement!
Let’s Get Started!
Water (4 parts)
Dish soap (1 part)
Corn Syrup (2 parts)
Food coloring (optional)
Fill a bowl with water
Put a few drops of food coloring in the water.
Put dish soap in the water.
Mix in the corn syrup.
Dip the tip of the pencil in the mixture.
Dip one end of the straw into the mixture and blow into the other end to make bubbles.
Try to pop the bubble with the pencil.
Now try to pop the bubble with your finger.
Watch the video below to see our unpoppable bubble!
Why this experiment works:
Bubbles are made of two basic things: water and air
Adding soap and corn syrup to water helps make the bubbles stronger
Soap and corn syrup molecules squeeze in between water molecules and help the film of water stretch out without breaking.
Bubbles made of just water pop quickly because their watery skins aren’t very stretchy.
When a dry pencil touches a bubble, the water in the bubble’s skin sticks to the pencil and causes it to snap back.
I am always looking for activities that incorporate reading and writing in a fun way. When I saw this activity, I knew there was potential for a variety of learning. The Secret Message activity will expose your child to science, reading, writing, spelling, and even math. At the bottom of this post, I explain how to use this activity to expose your child to different subject matters.
This activity is quick, simple, and uses materials you probably have in your home. Get ready to share a surprise with your little one.
Let’s Get Started!
Use a white crayon to write a secret message on a white sheet of paper.
You may draw pictures, notes, letters, numbers, etc.
Have your child use watercolor paints to brush over the paper.
The watercolor paints will reveal the secret message.
Your child should delight in discovering the mystery message.
Other ways to use this activity
This is a fun way to have your child practice letters, shapes, and number formation.
Write a vocabulary word on the paper and practice using the word during the day.
Practice reading skills by writing a note to your child and have them read it.
Surprise a love one or a friend with a fun greeting message.
Discuss the science of this activity by explaining that colored water paint reveals the message because the white crayon is written on white paper.