100+ Fun Things To Do This Summer {Our Summer Bucket List}

Summer is my favorite season. I love the sunny, warm weather and all the time spent cooling off with water related activities. If one were to have been with my family last summer though, you would have thought I despised summer since we spent too much of it indoors and I spent a lot of it working. I have vowed that this summer will be different and that my kids will enjoy this summer to the fullest, despite the fact that I work from home. To help ensure that I’d give them all the great memories of summertime that I had as a child, I created a Summer bucket list for our family with over 100 ideas for summer fun. The list is geared towards preschoolers. Keep track of our progress on our Summer Bucket List page.

Outdoor Fun:

*Have a picnic lunch

*Plant flowers

*Host a backyard playdate

*Make smores

*Get ice cream from the ice cream truck

*Make a mud pie

*Paint with colored ice cubes

*Play in the sprinkler

*Make a nature collage

*Blow bubbles

*Host a family party

*Build a sandcastle

*Play in the rain

*Go on a nature scavenger hunt

*Go fishing

*Paint with water

*Wash the family car together

*Draw with chalk on the sidewalk

*Paint rocks

*Play soccer in the backyard

*Eat juicy watermelon

*Create a car racetrack on the sidewalk

*Make {and eat!} ice cream sundaes

*Read books outside in the shade of a tree

*Fly a kite

*Have a water balloon fight

*Freeze toys in a block of ice and then try to get them out

*Teach the boys how to ride their tricycles

*Catch fireflies

*Slide on a slip n’ slide

*Decorate t-shirts

*Go for a wagon ride

*Roll down a hill

*Pick flowers and make a bouquet

*Play catch in the backyard

Indoor Fun:

*Make homemade pizza

*Have a pajama day

*Make a musical instrument

*Compete to see who can build the tallest block tower

*Have a sleepover

*Board game day

*Bake cookies together

*Play playdough

*Make {and eat} “dirt cups”

*Read through a children’s Bible together

*Make a fort

*Cook dinner together

*Dance to songs from a children’s CD

*Dress up in costumes

*Have a family movie night with popcorn

*Pretend to be in a marching band

*Make homemade popsicles

*Play “I Spy”

*Make a fruit salad

*Fingerpaint in the bathtub

*Make {and play} a memory game

*Serve lunch in an ice cube tray

*Make a craft for every letter of the alphabet

*Make a suncatcher

On The Go:

*Go somewhere fun for Jake’s birthday

*Go somewhere fun for Luke’s birthday

*Go to an amusement park

*Visit a children’s museum

*Walk around a children’s garden

*Play in a splash pad

*Go to a carnival

*Attend an outdoor concert

*Go to the aquarium

*Eat at a train themed restaurant

*Go to the Indiana Dunes

*Walk along the lakefront

*Go to Starved Rock

*Visit a waterpark

*Go to a farmer’s market

*Go see a movie at the theater

*Visit daddy at work

*Go to the Museum of Science and Industry

*Take GiGi to lunch

*Go to Navy Pier

*Visit a pet store and buy a fish

*Go to a children’s concert

*Eat at a restaurant and sit on the patio

*Take a train ride

*Go garage-saling

*Feed ducks

*Go berry picking

*Watch a fireworks show

*Go on a picnic

*Go for a family walk

*Go swimming

*Go to Chuck-E-Cheese

*Attend a workshop at Home Depot or Lowe’s

*Go on a nature walk

*Try out 5 different playgrounds in town (went to 1)

*Listen to stories at library storytime

*Go to a parade

*Go bowling

*Go to a children’s farm

*Go downtown Chicago

*Attend a Vacation Bible School

*Play mini-golf

*Do the summer reading challenge at the library (signed up)

*Take a 2 day vacation somewhere within driving distance

*Jump in a bounce house

*Go out for ice cream

*Swim lessons

*Go to Day Out With Thomas

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What’s on your summer bucket list?

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Wordless Wednesday: Playing Make Believe

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I have linked this post to: Wordless Wednesday Home

5 Minutes for Mom ~ Go Graham Go! ~ Jolly Mom

Mom of 3 Girls ~MomStart ~ Two of a Kind…

Momma Findings ~ Mom Knows It All

Frosted Fingers ~ A Daily Dose of Toni

The Divine Miss Mommy

Grammy Mouse Tails

Toddler Gift Ideas (Learning Toys)

After reading this post at 1plus1plus1equals1 where Carisa gives Christmas gift ideas for toddlers, I put a list together for Jacob and Lucas and here are ten of the items on it:

Also, I love this Melissa and Doug Shopping cart and it’s available in my Open Sky shop!!!

This post is linked up to Oh Amanda’s Top 10 Tuesday post.

(Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links.)

New Ways To Handle 6 Typical Baby and Toddler Scenarios

The following is a guest post from Dr. Jenn Berman, author of SuperBaby:

The way we communicate with our children is profound. Simple word choices completely change our children’s perception. As parents, we are constantly met with limit testing and resistance. The following are some effective methods for handling some typically tough situations using respectful communication. These easy-to-use scripts can be used over and over again in all kinds of situations that typically arise in the first three years.

Situation: Your baby cries as you are changing her diaper.
Instead of saying: “You’re okay.”
Try this: Narrate what you see. “I hear you crying. You sound really upset. I get the feeling you don’t want me to change your diaper. I will try to change it as fast as I can so you are not uncomfortable for long.”
Why: In that moment your child isn’t okay. If you were upset and your friend told you “You’re okay,” you would not feel heard. Narrating the experience your child is having allows her to know that you hear and respect her feelings. You are still holding the boundary (i.e., she is still having her diaper changed), but you are doing it with compassion. By reflecting her feelings, you also teach her how to be empathic, which helps in the development of emotional intelligence.

Situation: Your child drops a toy on the ground and has a meltdown.
Instead of saying: “Get over it! It’s just a toy!”
Try this: “I see you dropped your toy. You seem really upset! You look like you weren’t done playing with it.”
Why: Sure, to you or me, it is just a toy that fell on the ground, but to your child, this is genuinely upsetting. Demonstrating empathy is far more likely to help her calm down and to feel heard. By responding to her in this way, you become a safe and understanding source of comfort to her.

Situation: Your toddler does not want to climb into her booster chair.
Instead of saying: “Get in your chair, now!”
Try this: “Do you want to climb in or do you want Mom to put you in?”
Why: This gives the power back to your child while still setting the limit. Now there is less reason for her to resist. If she still refuses to get in the booster chair, you might say, “It looks like you are not hungry. Maybe you are too tired to eat. Your choices are chair or crib. You choose.”

Situation: Your son does a great job cleaning up after playtime.
Instead of saying: “What a good boy!”
Try this: You can say, “You put all your toys away! You even put all your books in the basket where they belong!”
Why: The implication is that he is a “good” boy for putting away his toys, so if he doesn’t, he must be a “bad” boy. The words “good” and “bad” connote moral judgment. Children are not “bad” because they don’t do what we ask. A child who is labeled “good” can feel as if he duped his parents when he does something not so “good.” He may also avoid taking a risk, like putting a toy away if he isn’t sure where it goes, because he doesn’t want to lose the title of “good boy.” You are better off describing what you see. This makes your child feel seen and valued.

Situation: At a playdate, your child hits another kid over the head with a toy, resulting in tears.
Instead of saying: “Say you’re sorry!”
Try this: “You hit Carley over the head with that toy. She looks really upset. What can you do to help her feel better? Let’s ask her what we can do to help her.”
Why: Forcing a child to say “I’m sorry” does not magically make her feel sorry. Making children say they are sorry when they don’t really feel sorry teaches them to be insincere. Encouraging your child to help the injured party teaches him about making amends and helping others.

Situation: Your child throws her food on the floor.
Instead of saying: “Stop it!”
Try this: “When you throw food on the floor, it makes me think that you are done eating. It you do it again, the meal will be over.”
Why: When children first get to sit in a high chair, they are curious to see what happens when they drop food. By following the recommended script, you let your child know the consequences of the action, you set up a rule, and you put the power back in her court. She can choose to end the meal by throwing food on the floor, but it is her choice. If she has a meltdown after you remove her from the high chair, your job is to hold your ground, but reflect her feelings (“I know you weren’t done and you wanted to stay in your chair. We can try again at lunch”). If you follow through with the stated consequence, the odds are that the situation won’t happen again for quite some time.

6 Tips To Encourage Language Development

The following is a guest post by Dr. Jenn Berman, author of SuperBaby:

It has been shown that the sheer number of words spoken to a child is directly proportionate to the size of her vocabulary. However, this applies only to direct conversations you have with your child. The words she overhears from television, videos, radio, or other conversations do not count.

While the techniques recommended below were developed for children who are having trouble learning language, they are beneficial for any child. When using any of these methods, avoid seeming to correct your child’s language which can discourage language use.

Technique: Modeling
Description: Model the correct word your child is trying to say without correcting her.
Example: Child says, “Baba!” while pointing to bottle. Dad then says, “Would you like your bottle?”

Technique: Self-talk
Description: Describe what you are doing, thinking, feeling, seeing, or hearing.
Example: “Now I am putting your dirty clothes into the hamper. I want to make sure they are clean for the next time you want to wear them.”

Technique: Parallel talk
Description: Describe what your child is doing.
Example: “Shayla is putting away her toys.”

Technique: Expansion
Description: Develop a child’s utterance into a complete sentence, expanding on it without changing the order of the words or intended meaning.
Example: Child says, “Mommy eat.” Mom then says, “Yes, Mommy is eating lunch with Ashley.”

Technique: Recasting
Description: Create a statement or question based upon the child’s statement while also adding new information or sharing correct pronunciation.
Example: Child says, “You shirt is lellow!” and then dad replies, “Yes, my shirt is yellow!”

Technique: Extension
Description: Add information to a topic your child has initiated without necessarily modeling a complete sentence.
Example: Child says, “Airplane!” then Mom says, “Big airplane high in the sky!”

Tot School: Apples

MONDAY:

Craft- Apple Print Wreath

Song- A Wiggly Worm

Activity- Go to the library to get apple themed books

Snack- Apples with peanut butter

TUESDAY:

Craft- Pom Pom Apple Tree

Song- Apples and Bananas (Barney song)

Activity- Play with cinnamon scented play dough

Snack- Applesauce

WEDNESDAY:

Craft- Color apples- red, green, and yellow

Song- Apples

Activity- Family outing- apple picking

Snack- Apples from the apple tree

THURSDAY:

Craft- Apple seed collage (glue apple seeds to paper)

Song- 1 little, 2 little, 3 little apples

Activity- Counting apples (numbers 1 to 5)

Snack- Apple chips

FRIDAY:

Craft- Apple Prints

Song- Apple, Apple

Activity- Make apple muffins

Snack- Apple Juice and graham crackers

Question Of The Day…

How do you get a toddler to share??

I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on this… Thanks in advance! :)

Potty Training Resources

Lately I have been thinking about potty training my toddler who is 21 months old so I did some searching online for resources. Below are some links to resources I found. If you have written anything on potty training please feel free to provide a link to your post in the comments or if you have any potty training tips I would welcome those, too.

-“Tinkle Tinkle Little Star” Song

Step by Step potty training article from Pampers online village

-Awesome post from ‘Little Llamas’ about their potty training experience and what worked for them

Potty training readiness checklist (some signs to look for in your child)

-A list of 10 books for children on using the potty

-Here’s a list of potty training dont’s

10 ways to prepare your child for the potty

-Huggies pullups “Big Kid Central“- Jacob loves the potty dance!

Wordless Wednesday- Jake’s Mess

It wasn't me, mommy!

Top Ten Toddler Toys

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For Top Ten Tuesday today I decided to write about my toddler’s favorite toys at the moment. He is 21 months old.

#1 Thomas and friends

#2 Crayons and other art supplies

#3 Puzzles

#4 Playdough

#5 LEGOs

#6 Shopping Cart

#7 Police Rocker

#8 Jack-in-the-box

#9 Laugh and Learn Pony

#10 Blocks

Muffin Tin Monday- Yellow Foods (3/8)

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

This week’s Muffin Tin Monday theme is- yellow. I didn’t realize until I was planning out the foods I would include in today’s MTM that yellow foods aren’t that common.

Yellow is this week's theme

Today Jacob was served:

-Banana slices

-Corn

-Golden oreo

-Pineapple

-Applesauce

-Organic potato chips

Stirring the juice

I made lemonade to drink but didn’t discover that we had no sugar until the mix was in the water… you should have seen his face!

Fun with food

This was what resulted at the end of the meal… he was having a great time mixing the foods together. At one point he had an applesauce dipped pineapple with a chip on top… doesn’t sound as good as ice cream with a cherry on top but it was his creation. I think the only foods that he ate most of were the banana slices and the corn which surprised me because I was sure the cookie and chips would be devoured as soon as they were set in front of him.

Enjoy your week. Looking forward to see what you all come up with for “Muffin Tin Monday”… don’t forget to link up by clicking on the icon at the top of this post! :)

Tot School- The 5 Senses

Tot School

This week in tot school we are talking about the FIVE SENSES. I had so many ideas for this theme that I almost finished the lesson plan in about 20 minutes with just ideas that I had used in the past as a preschool teacher. A lot of these activities can serve multiple categories but I chose the one that made the most sense. I will definitely revisit this theme again in the future.

SMELL

– Smelly playdough

– Color with scented markers

– Sticker art w/ “scratch and sniff” stickers

– Smelly tubes (film canisters work great for this… put scents on cotton balls, poke holes in the top of container, and have them smell)

– Bake cookies- smell them baking

– Smell fresh flowers

TASTE

– Make lemonade- taste lemon, then taste sugar, then make lemonade and taste that

– Make a trail mix w/ different toddler friendly snacks- include sweet, salty, crunchy, soft textured foods

– Have salty pretzels for snack

– Paint with chocolate pudding

– Brush teeth with different flavors of toothpaste

TOUCH

– Mix paint and grains of sand to make a textured paint

– Make a sensory box (I’ve used rice, sand, beans, packing peanuts, etc)

– Touch and feel box (from discovery toys)

– Texture collage- cut up pieces of various textured items and have child glue on to paper

– Water play

– Squishy bags (put paint, hair gel, or something else “gel” like in a ziploc bag…make sure to tape around the edges)

SIGHT

– Read a book about the 5 senses

– Rainbow art

– Decorate a “S” w/ string

– Take a walk and talk about what you see in nature

– Blow bubbles

HEARING

– Play a clapping game

– Make a musical instrument (easy idea is put beans into an oatmeal canister)

– Play the drums

– Bubble wrap fun- put a strip of bubble wrap on the ground and let the child jump on it

– Dance to music

– Listen to music while painting

Toddler Art

The toddler years are the perfect time to introduce children to various types of art projects and to begin experimenting with different types of materials. It’s important to remember that when children are young the process is more important than the product. I love using open ended art supplies and letting children be imaginative and use them how they would like to as opposed to giving them a coloring book to “color in the lines”. I have included some pictures of my 20 month old son’s art area and the art supplies that he has to give you an example of what you can create for your child.

Art Supplies

Organized Art Area

And here are some pictures of what open ended art projects look like:

Fingerpainting

Watercolors

Sequins all over the floor

:) Enjoy the messy fun!