Balloon Rocket Fun Activity

My son loves balloons! He likes to inflate, toss, and hit them. So, when I saw this experiment, I knew we had to do it! This is a perfect activity for July 4th festivities!

You probably have all the materials in your home. Once your child does this activity, they will want to do it repeatedly. Have fun with this simple yet exciting activity!

Materials:

  • String
  • Balloon
  • Wide Straw
  • Tape
  • Two Chairs or Two Trees

Method:

  • Cut string about several feet long
    • The string will be the track for your balloon launch.
  • Cut the straw about 4″ long
  • Thread the string through the straw
String it through the straw
  • Tie the two ends of the string to two chairs or two trees
    • We tied the strings to two chairs
  • Blow up the balloon
Cory blowing up the balloon.
  • Pinch the opening of the balloon to keep the air inside
  • Tape the straw to the balloon.
    • You made need two people to help with this step.
We taped the straw to the balloon.
This is the second try. We taped the straw to the balloon. The yellow balloon burst on us.
  • Go to one end of the string and let go of the balloon opening
  • Watch the balloon zip across the string.
  • Watch the video below of our Balloon Rocket!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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15 Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids

Most schools are out for the summer and families are going on road trips! Kids want something fun and engaging to do while riding in the car. Sure, our kids can watch movies in the car. However, the activities below go beyond that. They will exercise your child’s creativity, curiosity, and engage them.

This post is fulfilling my best friend’s request to write an article on Fun Road Trip Activities for Kids and it could not have come at a better time.

All of the activities below have been used to keep my son busy during road trips. I hope you find them helpful!

Let’s get started!

Association Game

The Association Game involves naming objects or people in the same category. The categories may include the following…

  • Animals
  • Food
  • Colors
  • Numbers
  • Shapes

Here’s how to play the Association Game…

  • Name a category like animals
  • You may begin by naming an elephant
  • Your child will name an animal
  • Keep alternating by naming animals until you both can’t think of anything else to say.
  • Play the game again with another category.

Paint by Sticker Books

I first discovered the Paint by Sticker Books at Chick-fil-A. This book came with my son’s kids meal. He liked it so much that I ordered one from Amazon. It is great for when your child needs to wait for long periods of time. Below is how it works…

  • Find the sticker.
  • Peel the sticker.
  • Place the sticker.
  • Then a colorful picture will appear.
My son doing a Sticker Page of a Giraffe.

Finish the Story

This is a great activity to encourage creativity, literacy, and getting kids to think on their feet.

  • Begin telling a story.
  • Then have your child tell the next part of the story.
  • Next, have another family member add on to the story.
  • All family members can contribute to the story.
  • Have your child end the story.

Play the Shape Game

This is a great game to get you and your child’s creative juices flowing. Click here to learn how to play.

Word Searches and Puzzles

Words searches and puzzles are great for word and pattern recognition. They are fun and will help your child learn new vocabulary words.

Water Wow Books

Water Wow books provides mess free painting for kids. It includes reusable pages and a refillable water pen. Your child will see vibrant colors appear at each stroke. My son loves these pads. His favorite themes are Alphabets, Numbers, and Farm Animals. Ensure to fill the pen with water before your trip.

Learning Apps – Pbs Kids

Playing Educational Apps in the Car is a fun and productive activity for kids. Below are some of the apps we like…

  • Pbs Kids Games
  • Crosswords for Kids
  • Paper Punch Party

Doodle Pad

My son loves the Doodle Pad. It provides a way for children to do unlimited drawings and writing with its convenient erasable feature. It has kept my son occupied for long periods of time during road trips. Another type of Doodle Pad we use is called the Boogie Board.

My son wrote “So Fun” on his Doodle Pad.

Paper and Pen

Bringing paper and washable crayons or markers provides endless activities. Do the following activities and so much more…

  • Play Tic Tac Toe
  • Play Stand Man – It is like the game, Hang Man, but we draw the man standing instead of hanging
  • Write letters and Numbers
  • Write a short story
  • Draw pictures

I Spy Books and Game

I Spy is a wonderful game to play with kids. It helps them learn about new objects and vocabulary. I Spy is a guessing game where multiple people can play. One person will pick an object and provide a hint. The other players will use the hint to guess what object the person has picked. You can get I Spy books from your local library.

  • Try to find objects with your child. It is better when more people are participating.
  • Once you and your child find an object, encourage each other to use directional language, like above, below, and beside, to explain how you found it to the other person.

Flexi Rods

Flexi Rods is a product that women use to make their hair curly. I had some in my closet that I was not using. One day, I decided to give one to my son to bend and twist in order to keep him still during diaper changes. He has bent the rods into letters, numbers, shapes, and still plays with them to this day. Warning: Be careful because there is wire inside flexi rods. Please watch your child at all times.

My son made the alphabet with flexi rods.

Threading Toys

Threading toys are great to help develop a child’s fine motor skills. Children have to use the pincer grasp to thread beads on the string or to thread the string in a hole. The pincer grasp is what children use once they start writing. It will keep kids busy and focused.

Tangram

Tangram is a puzzle that comes with seven flat shapes called Tans. A child can put the shapes together to make various images such as animals, other shapes, and people. We have a travel Tangram that we use on road trips and it has helped my son with spatial awareness and problem solving.

  • Use the shapes to make various numbers and animals
  • Make abstract art with shapes while you are on a road trip or waiting at the doctor’s office.
My son made the number six with tangram shapes.

Spot the Object

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

  • While you are on a road trip, pick an object you will identify such as a rectangle.
    • Identify with your child the rectangular signs, road markings, and the shape of traffic lights.

Are we there yet?

Has your child ever asked you “Are we there yet” while taking a trip? Use everyday math to answer this question.

There are two ways to do this. One way is with time.

  1. Let’s say your family takes a trip that will last one hour (60 minutes) to get to your destination.
  2. Just before leaving for your trip, show your child the time.
    • Let’s say you are leaving at 4:00pm.
  3. Tell your child, you will get to your destination when the 4 turns into a 5, which is 5:00pm.
  4. Check in with your child every 10 minutes and do a countdown.
    • For example, at 4:10pm tell your child you have 50 minutes to go.
    • At 4:20pm tell your child you have 40 minutes to go.
    • You can also do this every 15 or 20 minutes if you like. 
  5. This helps to decrease the constant asking of “Are we there yet?”
  6. If you stop to use the restroom, explain to your child that this will add time on to the trip. 

Another Way to do this is with Landmarks

  1. Let’s say you are driving on the Interstate and you are on Exit 1 but your destination is near Exit 20.
  2. Tell your child when you get to Exit 20, you will be at your destination.
  3. Pinpoint every 2 or 5 exits until you reach the end of your trip. 
  4. Have your child identify the Exit Numbers.
    • For example, ask your child to tell you when you have reached Exit 4 and then Exit 6.
    • You have just created an important task for your child. 
    • They are helping you navigate and they can sense how long the trip will be.
    • This is also helping with number recognition!

Have fun with these activities!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.


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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!

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

Happy Learning!

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

Happy Learning!

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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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

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