Monday, April 30, 2012

An Announcement and a Giveaway via What To Expect- CLOSED

Congrats to our winner Diana C who said... 

I am emailing you right now! Please reply back quickly!!

If you missed my announcement on Facebook last week, I thought I'd share it here too! Our family is expecting a new addition this Fall. I am about 14 weeks along now and am feeling much less exhausted, so that is awesome. I am fortunate and don't get sick when I am pregnant, just tired! We are so excited about this new adventure for our family.

As a way to celebrate our announcement, we are partnering with this week to share a special giveaway with you!

When I have been pregnant, especially during my first pregnancy, I was on What to Expect's website daily. Since then (4+ years ago) their site has been redesigned and it is chock full of even more resources. Up until recently I didn't realize that in addition to sharing loads of "what to expect when you're expecting" resources, it also shares information for parents of toddlers... my favorite sort of information right now!

Since there is almost a three year age gap between my kids, I have forgotten a lot about "what to expect" from toddlers. The website is a great place for reminders.

A few weeks ago What to Expect sent me a box full of books. The box contained three awesome ones:

  1. What To Expect When You're Expecting
  2. What To Expect The First Year
  3. What To Expect The Second Year

1. What To Expect When You're Expecting is a book that I typically give brand new moms when I find out they are expecting (along with a some cute unisex onesies or bath hoodies). It sat on my bedside table for my entire first pregnancy and I got it out again with my second pregnancy. I'm glad to have a brand new one the third time around. :) 

This book answers tons of pregnancy questions and goes month by month through your pregnancy talking about what to expect from your baby, your body, and your doctor. It also covers topics that you might be wondering about. Each of my pregnancies has been entirely different, so I have loved this book because it shares so many different experiences. Reading through the first few chapters always makes me sooo grateful that I don't get morning sickness. I feel so bad for those of you that do!

This book also talks about life after the baby arrives... which is perfect, because as a new mom I kind of wanted to know what to expect. Now that I'm expecting again I need the book to remind me about what to expect too... I can barely remember anything! Does that happen to anyone else?

2. What To Expect The First Year goes month by month through your baby's first year of life. I loved this book when my son was born and totally forgot to pull it out the second time around. I have loved going back through it and wish I would've had it out as a reference this past year. Parents always talk about how there isn't a manual for how to be a parent... but this book comes pretty close in that regard for the first year. Any section regarding how to get your baby to sleep was utilized a lot in my book! I am also terrible at remembering first aid... and 1yr olds fall a lot as they start moving (at least mine do), so I love the first aid reminders and resuscitation techniques for babies and children. I haven't had to do infant CPR ever, but I am terrified that I will forget what to do if it happens. In addition to getting re-certified often, I like having this section of the book readily available for if I ever need it!

3. What To Expect The Second Year- This book is new to me and I LOVE IT! I have probably spent more time with this book in the past few weeks than any of the others above. My toddler has been experiencing a whole mess of emotions lately and there have been moments when I have held her and cried because I just haven't known what to do!

I love new parenting tools and instead of going month by month through your toddler's second year, this book is broken down into different topics based on typical things that you need to know about your  
child during ages 12 months-24 months. Sections cover topics like feeding, growth, body care, movement, sleeping, behavior, talking, socializing, developmental disabilities, traveling, and safety.

The section I have spent the most time in has been the one about behavior. I love the simple tips and strategies. There is a wonderful section on taming tantrums, which goes along perfectly with my recent Toddler Tantrums- Ways to Deal post. It is nice to realize that the challenges my daughter is having are normal and that I am actually responding to her in the right way.

I also love the simple reminders of ways to head off tantrums and catch them before they happen. These are a few of my favorite suggestions from the book (summarized)...

1) Keep a regular schedule
2) Don't let your toddler get overtired
3) Say "no" only when you have to 
4) Provide choice (we do this all the time and it works so well!)
5) Teach your child to vent and give them the words
6) Emphasize your child's good behavior

(What To Expect the Second Year by Heidi Murkoff,  p235-236)

So, now that you know more about these fabulous books, I am excited to share them with you! One lucky reader will win all three books!

  1. What To Expect When You're Expecting
  2. What To Expect The First Year
  3. What To Expect The Second Year

If you don't win the books then you can still head on over to and enjoy loads of free resources! Or stop by their Facebook or Twitter page and follow them.

Here's how you enter the giveaway:

Simply add a comment stating that you did each of the following:
(Please include your email address with each entry)

1. Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment with your email address below.
** Please remember to leave your email address with your entry. That is mandatory to enter into the giveaway.

2. Additional Entries:
- Follow Toddler Approved on TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and Pinterest (if you don't already)
- Follow What to Expect on Twitter and Facebook 
- Share your favorite article from over at and post the link in your comment.
- Share this giveaway post on your blog, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest page and then leave a comment to let us know.
- Let us know one thing you are hoping to learn from these books.
- Make a guess about whether I am having a boy or a girl and tell me your favorite baby name!

*** Please remember to leave a comment for each additional entry so that we can make sure to count it.

Entry Guidelines:

- This giveaway is open for entry from Monday, April 30th to Tuesday, May 8th at 11:59pm (PST).
- The random entry will be drawn on May 9th and announced on this post. I will notify the winner via email.
The winner will need to reply to me within 72 hours of this announcement/email. If there is no response, a new winner will be drawn.
- See our Official Giveaway Rules for complete guidelines.

Thanks for celebrating this fun news with our family!

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You are providing your information to Toddler Approved and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for Toddler Approved.   

Disclaimer: The books reviewed in this post were given to me for free by All posts reflect my personal opinion and endorsement and are not swayed by compensation and/or free products. Please note that this post reflects my opinion and you might not share that same opinion.


By the way, it is Screen Free Week this week. We are teaming up with Creative with Kids and Hands On: As We Grow to have screen free week together. We are each taking a few days off of blogging to be completely screen free and then we are setting goals to minimize our screen time on the other days. I will be completely offline on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Will you be participating in Screen Free week? How? 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Making Screen Free Work For Me- A Challenge

I kind of think if I went entirely screen free for a whole week I might go a little crazy. I am so reliant on technology for everything on some days- random Google search answers to questions, YouTube videos of baking soda volcanoes to appease my son, recipes for dinner, emails from my son's preschool about important events, or quick text messages to a mass group of friends telling them we are finally escaping our house and please come join us at the park! I also feel like the internet is a gift to stay-at-home moms. There are so many great resources for parents (like awesome Kid-Friendly blogs) and ways to connect with others. I have met so many wonderful bloggers, educators, and friends through this blog.

Although the internet has some wonderful uses, it can also be a huge waste of time! It is easy to scan blogs or browse Pinterest and not actually do anything! It is also easy to get caught up with checking in with friends via Facebook and Twitter and spend far too much time reading about what other people are doing.

I go in waves where I'm online tons and then have days where I only do a few obligatory things and barely check Twitter or Pinterest once. Anyways, I'm working towards more moderation and a better balance of screen time in our home. There are weeks (like the first couple of my current pregnancy) when DVDs have been on a lot because I am too tired to function!

So, as part of Screen Free week, I'm looking at screen time in our home (mine and the kids), and setting some goals to make it work for us.

I am also issuing you a challenge to look at your screen time, work from where you are, and set your own goals for this next week.

EJ and I are joining with Hands On: As We Grow and Creative with Kids to make Screen Free week into a bit more than a one week screen free blitz. We want to challenge you to look at how screen time works in your house and make a change if it isn't working or you are feeling like things are out of balance.  

Here are some of my goals... (I would love to hear yours!)

1. Be screen free with the kids all week long. Anytime they are awake, screens are off. 
My kids are much happier and less demanding when screens are off... but I am totally guilty of occasionally turning on a movie so that I can cook dinner or wash the dishes! Some of you are already great at this... I am not. :) This week I am going to try to be better. 

2. Make sure to stay hands-free at the park (put my phone in the stroller and away from me). 
Sometimes I use my jog and park time to catch up on the phone with my sister. This week I am going to work even harder to be present and not talk on the phone or even sneak a peak at emails).

3. Use naptime to work on projects, not catch up on emails/messages. 
Whenever I sit down at my computer during naptime I can plan to be on for just a minute and then an hour later I realize I'm still online. I love the idea of using a timer... if I do have a business email or two, then I'm going to try and set a timer for myself. Other than that, no computer during naptime!

4. Only work on the computer for one hour in the evening after my kids are in bed. 
This is prime work time for me... but I am going to cut back and attempt to read a book I am behind on and possibly even get to bed early.

5. Plan a Screen Free (at home) date night on Tuesday and Wednesday night with my husband! 
We have date night every night and usually chat and watch one show on Hulu, but I'm going to try and be more creative this week. 

6. Team up with two friends to celebrate Screen Free Week. 
As I mentioned above, I'm joining with Hands On: As We Grow and Creative with Kids to participate in Screen Free week. Each of us will be taking two days off this next week so that together we will complete a whole week screen free! I will be offline completely on Tuesday and Wednesday, though I may have a prescheduled post on the blog those days. If you try and contact me via email or leave a comment on those days, don't worry, I will get back to you when I return on Thursday!

7. Keep the DVD player off in the car. 
This one is seriously going to drive me insane... but it needs to happen. My daughter hates the car, so I tend to use the DVD player far too much when we are driving. Now she is totally used to it and says Elmo every time we get in the car. I did a practice run today and she wasn't terrible... I just had to do more singing. 

8. Explore some new places in our community, create lots of projects and activities, and connect with friends we haven't seen in awhile! 
We already do this every day... but we are going to do even more this upcoming week!

I'm hoping that I didn't bite off more than I can chew with this list. I recommend starting small and maybe even picking one goal (maybe don't follow my lead?). I can't wait to hear how you make this challenge work for you.

  • Alright, so what are your Screen Free goals? for you? for your kids?
  • Are you going to participate in Screen Free week? 
  • How are you going to make it work for you?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Toddler Tantrums... Ways to Deal

If you haven't yet, make sure to read my favorite tip for calming tantrums!

(photo of my youngest son who is now a toddler) 

My daughter is in the throes of tantrum times. She is around 17 months and is quite dramatic. I don't remember my son starting this early, but I actually think he knew more words by this point and that's why he tantrumed less.

Anyways, I always thought I was a patient person before I became a parent. In fact, the staff that worked with me always remarked at how well I handled even the most insane behaviors from kids.

Fast forward a few years and my patience isn't as incredible as it used to be. I've mentioned how I struggle with getting angry in a previous post called Eight Ways to Deal with Anger as a Parent.

So tantrums have been the bane of my existence this week. Some have been completely warranted on the part of my daughter... some that my son has had have been completely and utterly irrational and seemingly out of the blue.

So, why do tantrums happen and how do you deal with them?

I am going to share some basic reasons for toddler tantrums and some ideas of how I deal with them. Pass along your advice too. Some of you are wayyy more creative and experienced than me!

Basic reasons for toddlers tantrums:

1. Can't express what they want/need
2. Trying to assert their independence
3. Want to be in control
4. Too many limits
5. Basic needs not being met- tired, hungry, thirsty, etc.
6. Overstimulated
7. Bored

Ways to deal:

1. Acknowedge

This strategy is probably my favorite and the most effective with my kids, which is why it is first. I even wrote an entire post about here ==>> My favorite tip for calming tantrums. Make sure to check it out!

2. Distract, distract, distract

Toddlers have notoriously short attention spans. This can occasionally be used to our advantage as parents. Today my daughter threw a tantrum at gymnastics because she wanted a turn on the trampoline and another kid was jumping right then. She doesn't understand waiting and turn-taking yet, so she just gets mad.

I explained in short phrases that he was going to take 10 jumps and then it would be her turn. I acknowledged that it was hard to wait her turn and she must be frustrated. I talk a lot with my kids about how it is ok to get upset or cry when you are angry/frustrated. That conversation wasn't cutting it though, so we moved over to another thick mat and I pretended that it was another trampoline and jumped on it. She got distracted having fun doing that and stopped screaming long enough for the other kid to get his 10 jumps in and move off the trampoline. Distracting doesn't mean that you don't acknowledge your child's feelings and recognize they need to express them. You can do that first and then help them find something else to do while they wait. In my daughter's case, I showed her another option of what we could do while we waited instead of standing around screaming. If I were an even better mom, I would probably say something like, "When I am waiting my turn for the trampoline sometimes I like to practice jumping to get ready for my turn..." or share another tool my daughter could use while she waits her turn.

Update: I have read this post on distracting toddlers by Janet Lansbury and I love many of the points shared in the article. I still redirect my toddler from time to time, but also have tried some of her ideas! I definitely recommend reading her post.

3. Give your child the words

A lot of toddler tantrums stem from the fact that the child doesn't know how to tell you what they want. I think it is really important to be aware of this and slow life down so that you have time to model the words they should use when they are frustrated and need something. My daughter throws tantrums when she can't climb up on a chair or reach a particular toy. Just giving her words like, "Help me mama" or "up" really alleviates her frustration. As you do this over time, toddlers will need less and less modeling/prompting and will begin to use their words more and behavior less to communicate. This is so easy to forget in the busy pace of the day... especially when you have more than one child or other things pulling at your attention. Fortunately your child's tantrum can easily help remind you if you forget :)

4. Ignore (the behavior, not the child) 

Sometimes there is really nothing you can do as a parent to snap a kid out of a tantrum, so I ignore my daughter's tantruming behaviors as best that I can and focus on teaching the appropriate behaviors/ways to express her feelings/needs. I acknowledge my child's feelings (mad, frustrated) and make sure my child knows I am trying to help her. Then I focus on the positive behaviors that she can use to get help (use words, gestures, etc.), ignore the negatives ones, and give attention to the other kids/adults around me that are acting/behaving the way that I want my daughter to act/communicate. I stay close by as she tantrums and intervene if she is going to injure herself or others. I use words to tell her that I know she is upset but I won't let her hit/kick/throw, etc. I don't talk much because while she is raging she isn't really able to process what I am saying anyway.

5. Take a break

When my daughter woke up from her nap today she was grumpy about everything. Nothing made her happy and everything my son did (even silly or nice things) made her cry or throw herself on the floor and get mad. After trying to help her cheer up for about 30 minutes, I put her back in her crib with her stuffed animals and let her take a break. She cried, she talked to herself, and after about 10-15 minutes she was calling for us and happier. Toddlers can't really say things like, "I'm still tired" or "you got in my face too much right after I woke up and I needed to be left alone for a little longer..." so sometimes they just tantrum or cry. In my daughter's case, I think she needed to have napped for longer. Giving her time to be alone gave her the opportunity to wake up the way that she wanted.

Sometimes taking a break also just means removing my daughter from a situation that is hard (like sharing toys) and giving her some extra love. When she is calm, we'll return and try again.

6. Use Humor

This mostly works when I have my son or husband around when my toddler is tantruming. It is so much easier to deal with her silly antics when my 4-yr-old looks at me and laughs quietly at how crazy his sister is being. We kind of share a little inside joke together and it is fun. It totally makes dealing with crying and screaming so much easier.

Now, when they are both throwing tantrums, that is a different story. With my son I can randomly say something goofy and usually snap him out of anything. With my daughter I can give her a tuba kiss on her tummy or cheek and sometimes that will get her giggling and distract her from a tantrum for a minute or two.

7. Change the situation

This is my favorite thing to do. It kind of goes along with distracting. If kids are having a rough day, we get out of the house or leave wherever we are (if that is possible) to change things up. Usually once we've moved locations my toddler with the short attention span forgets about why she was throwing a tantrum and gets interested in something else. This is one of the reasons that we like to make sure to get out of the house several times a day! Helps me stay sane too!

8. Set the limit... and follow through

Toddlers are always testing boundaries and trying to figure out the rules. There are so many rules that they don't understand or don't know about yet. As a parent it is our job to teach them how things work and set expectations and consequences.

For example, in our bathroom we have a large jacuzzi tub that my kids like to bathe in. My daughter loves to climb up the sides and stand on the wide edge of the tub. I spend a lot of time showing her all the things that are fun that she can do in the tub and then remind her not to stand on the edge of the tub because it is slippery and dangerous. She still loves to stand on the edge, so when she does, we give her a warning. Usually the second time she does it, we remove her from the tub and she is done with her bath. This usually causes a tantrum, but as we continue to be more consistent, she tantrums for less time because she is beginning to learn the rule.

Being consistent is critical. If you change the rules, then toddlers get so confused and more frustrated! Be consistent and make your limits simple, reasonable, and enforceable.

9. Plan Ahead

Bring snacks if you'll be out running errands and you think your child will be hungry/thirsty, don't plan events for when your child should be napping/in bed as much as possible, don't over-schedule your day, and bring toys or other items to distract your child when you are out and about. These are pretty basic, but it easy to forget these things as a busy parent. I am guilty of often wondering, "Why is she so annoyed?" only to remember that lunch was at 12 and now it is 3:30 and my daughter hasn't had a snack or even a drink since then! Adults can get stuff for themselves, but toddlers are reliant on us... I'd be grumpy too if I didn't know how to ask for something and I was starving or thirsty or bored!

Now these ways to deal don't cover ways to respond to all of the many reasons above why toddlers throw tantrums... but these are a start. They also aren't anything super new or unique... but I need these reminders daily! I could do a whole other post on dealing with aggressive toddler tantruming behaviors like hitting, kicking, etc. too. Toddlers definitely keep us on our toes as parents, don't they?!

(Disclaimer: In the photo above my toddler is incorrectly strapped in due to thrashing and anger from a tantrum where she pulled her seat belt down. The car is not moving and we did not drive with her strapped in this way. When she calmed down, I strapped her in correctly and we were on our way.)

  • How do you deal with toddler tantrums? 
  • What are your creative tricks or tips?
  • What causes toddler tantrums at your house?

** As always, just a reminder. I am a parent and an educator. I am not perfect. This post shares my opinions. I am not a parenting expert. Please use what works for you and leave what doesn't. I love to learn from others, so feel free to share resources with me that have been helpful to you. They may also be useful to other readers!

PS- Do you need some extra parenting tools? Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute has an awesome e-book that I am devouring right now called Parenting with Positive Guidance. I highly recommend it. 

Also, my friend Alissa over at Creative with Kids has a wonderful Positive Parenting pinterest board that you should check out. She also has a great series on her blog with Positive Parenting resources that you can find online and in stores. I can always use new tools in my parenting tool belt, so these are great places to start.

Lastly, I am part of an amazing collaborative pinterest board called Parenting With Presence led by Zina over at Let's Lasso the Moon. There are so many great parenting resources on this board. 

Toddler Approved also has several parenting posts that you can find in our Best of Parenting Section.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rainbow Button Letters and the Friday Kid's Co-op Link up!

We have been having fun with the letter M this week at our house. Originally I thought it would be fun to create playdoh monsters (you know, since monster starts with the letter M), but my son had a different idea and so I turned the activity over to him.

His idea was to use the buttons (which I had called Monster eyes) to help him create rainbow alphabet letters- specifically lower and uppercase letter m.

I didn't get any pictures of the process because I was trying to keep the 17 month old from eating the buttons and get her to play with the playdoh instead of eating it (can't wait till she is over that!).

My son was occupied with his rainbow button letters for quite some time though. Once I got my daughter exploring the materials (instead of eating them), I created some letters with him too and then we swapped materials and created again.

We had such a great time on our kitchen floor (having a playdoh picnic) talking about the colors of the rainbow and the characteristics of different alphabet letters.

Do you love creating rainbows or projects that are rainbow themed? Head on over to The Outlaw Mom's blog for an awesome rainbow blog hop. There are almost 100 ideas linked up! We will be linking up our simple rainbow post too.

If you have any other fabulous posts from this past week, come join us and link up to the Friday Kid's Co-op Linky! Each week I am blown away by all of the amazing things people create. Come share what you've been up to! We love to feature the posts we discover on our blog and Facebook page, so link up so that we can feature you! Have a fabulous weekend!

Kids Co-op 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Carrot Seed Virtual Book Club & Blog Hop

Danielle at Mommy and Me Book Club is co-hosting April's Virtual Book Club for Kids with us and she chose The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss as this month's book. I LOVED it and so did the kids in our book club.

I have a few Carrot Seed themed activities to share with you today and a few other ones that I'll include in another post. We had seven little friends over on Monday for our Carrot Seed Mommy and Me Book Club and we had way too much fun.

One that was a hit was The Carrot Seed M&M sorting activity. Each kid got a carrot M&M sorting template and had fun sorting through different colored M&Ms to create their carrots. They used green, orange, and yellow M&Ms to design their carrots however they wanted.

One side of the template has circles and the other one is blank so your child can put the M&Ms however they want. One matching activity idea could be to have your child create a design on the template using colored pencils or crayons and then sort through the M&Ms to match them to the design on the template.

I recommend cutting each sheet in half. One carrot has plenty of M&Ms! :)

My co-blogger EJ is the M&M printable wizard, so this is just my simple attempt at trying my own. What kid doesn't love an activity with M&Ms?

You could also cut up baby carrots and use little carrot pieces or cereal for this activity if you want to make it more healthy.

I got this next activity from PreKinders. I printed off the toddler playdoh mats and the kids explored using the playdoh to plant their carrot garden as our gathering activity when Mommy & Me Book Club started.

I laid out a large plastic tablecloth on our kitchen floor for a playdoh picnic and had lots of playdoh for the kids to use as they explored. It was fun to see the different things they created.

Lastly, I created carrot painted cookies as a book club snack with my son. You can read the directions here. Next time I will have the whole group paint them since they ended up being super easy!

Did you participate in our Virtual Book Club for Kids this month? What was your child's favorite part of the book? What did you create?

My son thought it was sooo funny that the carrot was so big at the end! He also thought it was funny every time people said, "it won't come up!" When we got to the parts in the book that talked about weeding and sprinkling water, the kids pretended to weed their gardens and sprinkle water all over. 

If you participated in book club this month and have a Carrot Seed blog post to share with us, please link it up in the linky below! Please make sure to only link up Carrot Seed related posts. If you have more than one to share, you are welcome to share them, but limit your links to two. Blog posts should share about your book club experience and a learning activity, craft, or related project you did! I can't wait to see what you link up!

If your post is not Carrot Seed themed or you link more than two posts, I will unfortunately have to delete your extra/irrelevant posts! 

I will be adding the posts below to our Virtual Book Club Pinterest Board along with sharing them over on Toddler Approved's Facebook page. I highly recommend you visit other blogs participating in the link up, leave a comment, and share the fabulous posts you discover too!

If you would like to participate in the blog hop and don't already have the blog hop linky code to put at the bottom of your blog, email me at toddlerapproved (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you the HTML.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flowers on a String: Simple Mother's Day Necklace

Was "attempting" to organize my fabric/craft stash when I came across my bag of "felt scraps" - I just can't bring myself to throw it away because there is always at least one more project or use for them.  Please tell me I'm not the only one with this problem dilemma.  

Today's project took care of a few of those scraps . . .  

Materials Needed: Felt, scissors, string/ribbon/ric rac

Cut several flower shapes from felt.  In the center of each flower, cut 2 small parallel lines (as pictured above) to weave your string through. 

Thread flowers on your string.  Tip: To make it easier for little hands to thread the string through, wrap a small piece of tape around one end of the string (to make it hard/shaped like a needle).  

Give it/wear it as a necklace or bracelet!

I love to receive hand made gifts from my children (especially on mother's day).  What is the best mother's day gift you have received?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Carrot Painted Cookies

I am getting excited about this Thursday's Virtual Book Club for Kids featuring The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. Will you be participating?

We will be sharing several activities from our recent Carrot-themed Mommy & Me Book Club over the course of this week, so I thought I'd start by sharing a simple carrot treat that you and your kiddos can make together. I was inspired by this awesome idea from Our Dish. Do your kids like to eat dirt? Mine sure do! ;)

Materials Needed for carrots and dirt:

  • crushed oreo cookies
  • sugar cookie dough
  • orange and green food coloring
  • paintbrush
  • cup of water
  • plastic cup
  • baking pan

Directions to make carrot cookies:
  1. Roll dough into small, thin, and long carrot-like rolls. Make them half the size you think they should be. Kind of like this.
  2. Bake them according to your sugar cookie dough directions until they have flattened and are starting to look solid on the edges. They should not be doughy.
  3. Let the cookies cool off a bit.
  4. Mix a few drops of food coloring with about a half a cup of water. Test out your "paint" colors until they are as bright as you would like.
  5. Paint the bottom portion of the cookies with orange and the top with green to look like stems.
Have you ever painted cookies with your kids? My son was a big fan of this activity... and also loved trying to sneak sugar cookie dough.

Once the cookies are complete, put some crushed "dirt" (oreo cookies) into a cup, dig a little hole for your carrot cookie, plant it, and pass out your yummy treat to your guests!

My son helped me create these cookies before our book club... but next time I will just give each kid their own paint brush and let them paint their own cookies! It really was simple and fun... and so much better than trying to get the actual dough to change into the color we wanted... and easier than trying to cut the cookies into the shape we wanted too.

I love simple and easy treats. This was definitely a great one! The kids thought it was so funny that they were eating dirt as well! I highly recommend adding it to your "to do" list this week!

Make sure to stop back on Thursday (April 26th) to link up your Carrot Seed themed posts! I can't wait to see them!

PS- You can check out all of the awesome posts from our March Virtual Book Club for Kids on our Virtual Book Cub pinboard. Do you have a recommendation of a book that we should pick for next month's book club? Comment or email us at toddlerapproved (at) gmail (dot) com with your suggestion!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Color Mixing with Ice

It has been warm here lately for me (80-90 degrees), so we have been hot! To cool things off a bit, we've been playing and exploring with ice a lot.

Tomorrow I am sharing three of our favorite ways to play with ice over at A Mom with a Lesson Plan... so today I thought I'd add just one more to our list. 

This weekend we explored and mixed colors using food coloring, our hands, and crushed ice. 

Food coloring can stain hands a bit, but we didn't really care. If you do, you can always use a tool to move the ice around or let your child use plastic gloves. We made sure to cover any surfaces nearby that we didn't want to get food coloring on.

Materials Needed:
  • freezer paper or finger painting paper- we like freezer paper because the liquid doesn't soak through it
  • food coloring
  • bowl of crushed ice
  • (optional) towel to put down under your painting paper 

Directions for color mixing with ice:
  1. Place some crushed ice on top of the freezer paper
  2. Squirt two different colors of food coloring onto the ice. Make a prediction regarding what color you think you will make.
  3. Mix the colors up.
  4. Create your picture and then let the ice/paint dry.

We did this process again and again on our large piece of freezer paper. My son loved swirling the ice around and trying to create different things.

After the painting was dry, we hung it up in our window and it made for a beautiful rainbow sun catcher. I thought about cutting it into some sort of cute shape, but we loved seeing all of the different swirly colors together so much that we just left it alone. 

Didn't it turn out beautifully?

Does your child love creating and playing with ice?

Here are several more awesome activities using ice... 
You can also check out this wonderful ice play round up over at NurtureStore.

Do you have any other favorites you would add?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Capturing Precious Moments as a Parent

The opportunity to be a parent is a gift. I consider it to be a very precious gift. On days when I am not appreciating that gift as much as a should, I think about friends who struggle to get pregnant, or who have lost a child, or who have a child that is experiencing challenges, and then I am much more grateful.

There are days as a parent when I am bored or tired or frustrated... and sometimes I feel all three at the same time. There are other days when I am enthusiastic, full of energy, and so creative. I wish I could bottle up all the emotions on the amazing days so that I could give myself an injection on the ho hum sort of days. Do you ever feel like that?

How do you get yourself out of a funk when you're exhausted mentally, physically, or emotionally as a parent?

I have decided that for me, it is important to capture the precious moments I experience as a parent in some way.

Here are a few of the ways that I capture these moments:

1. Talk about them.

I have a twin sister. We were born five minutes apart (I am the oldest :)). She is my best friend and I think we talk on the phone pretty much every day for at least 20 minutes... if not an hour or two. Besides my husband (and the grandparents) she is the one who I talk to the most about my kids and the craziness of parenting. We share silly antics that our kids do, things we are proud of about them, things that annoy us... whatever... but as we talk about them, the events are captured. Talking about the mundane or exceptional parts of our day actually helps me reflect on my own parenting abilities, learn from my mistakes, and resolve to be a little better. Talking to someone else also gives me a fresh perspective and helps me have a broader view about the importance of what I am doing as a parent.

2. Write them down.

I record all sorts of things on this blog and then I also have a personal family blog where I write about special events or post goofy videos of my kids or silly stories that I want to remember. I also used to keep a handwritten journal or a computer journal where I would write more detailed things. One of my favorite ways to record precious moments is by keeping a gratitude journal.

As a teacher of kids with autism a few years ago, I had one particularly hard student. He threw terrible tantrums, injured me, and made work-life really exhausting. I began writing down simple things that I was grateful for at the end of each day. One day I wrote that I was grateful he sat in his chair for most of the class time. Another day I wrote that I was grateful he had only pulled a few strands of hair out of my head when he attacked me instead of a whole chunk. When I started my gratitude journal I was ready to change jobs and move far away. As I began to notice more and more positive things, my attitude completely changed... and you know what? So did he.

Similarly, at the end of the day when I blog or write about my day with my kids, I tend to notice more and more of the positive things that I may not have noticed during the heat of the moment during the day. Once the kids are in bed, I remember so many wonderful things about them and I can't wait for them to wake up! Writing them down and then having them to look back at on harder days, really makes a difference for me. I think I need to start reflecting during the middle of the day too... so maybe I'll be even kinder!

3. Snap a picture.

I take a lot of pictures. I feel like my kids are growing up too fast and photos are a way for me to remember the moments we spend together. When I don't have my camera or my phone close by (which is rare), then I take a pause and snap a mental picture... that I pray will stay with me. There are definitely some moments of parenthood that I don't want to have documented... but there are far too many that I just hope I can hold on to because they are so sweet.

For example, my little daughter gives me hugs about 400 times a day. She is in love with mama right now. No one is ever around to capture her sneaking up behind me to give me a hug or her little legs running towards me and then grabbing my knees and hugging them and not letting go. It is seriously adorable. I never want to forget it.

Do you journal, take photos, or blog? Or do something else to record your parenting journey?

How do you capture precious moments as a parent?

What is your favorite mental picture you've taken recently? What is a memory you have of your kids that you hope you never forget?

If you have a special moment captured somewhere and would like to share, I'd love to see it. Just leave a note, a link, or share a story in the comments. I think by sharing the precious moments you experience as a parent again and again, they are carved even deeper into your heart.  

Have a Happy Sunday! I hope your day today is filled with many precious moments!

I am getting so excited for next week's Virtual Book Club for Kids, so if you haven't checked it out yet, head on over. We would love you all to join us!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beginning Sounds Collage

I have been working with my four-year-old on his letter names and sounds for awhile. He knows most of them because he's had so much exposure to them in fun, creative, and exploratory ways.

One way that we've both loved learning about beginning sounds is by going on a beginning sounds magazine hunt... and then creating a collage with the fabulous pictures we find.

I think this activity is great for preschoolers and older toddlers.

Materials Needed:

  • magazine
  • scissors
  • glue
  • large drawing paper
  • markers

1. Choose the alphabet letter you want to focus on for the activity. We chose B because that is the letter we are talking about this week. We sang our favorite letter names/sounds alphabet song as we got started and reviewed the sound that the letter b makes.

2. Go through a magazine together looking for pictures of items that begin the the sound you are hunting for. With younger kids they may need several reminders/prompts while you are looking to remember the sound that they are hunting for. With older kids like my son, this portion of the activity could probably be done independently, but I like doing it together to build on new vocabulary and spend time talking together.

3. Rip out magazine pages that have an object on them that starts with the letter you are hunting. For example, we ripped out bicycle, bottle, butterfly, bee, bubbles, bear, and baby, etc.

4. Have your child use scissors to help cut around the image.

5. Glue the images onto large drawing paper that is labeled with the letter you are hunting for.

6. Go through and talk about each image after it is added and have your child tell you the word to write by each picture.

7. Hang the collage somewhere your child can see it often. If you'd like, put a wooden dowel or some sort of pointer close by so that your child can go and read the words on the wall and point to each one as they read.

Once your child understands beginning sounds, you could go on a middle or ending sound hunt using the same idea.

This activity can easily be adapted for younger toddlers in several ways...

1. Have toddlers rip magazine pages and have fun exploring the pictures they see as they rip and tear... which is a really fun sensory experience. Once finished you could make a ripped art collage. Pour glue on a piece of paper and have your child stick all the ripped paper onto the glue.

2. Look through magazines with your toddler and talk about the pictures they see. Label each picture while you talk and describe the pictures in simple phrases. Rip out pictures your toddler seems to love and have your toddler help you glue them into a collage. Hang the collage of pictures somewhere in your house where your toddler can reach and as they touch each picture, talk about it. If you want your collage to stay intact... laminate it! This is a great way to teach new vocabulary using your child's interests.

3. Go on a color or shape hunt with your toddler inside the magazines. Look for objects that are a specific shape or color and make a shape or color collage. For example, look for orange objects and then rip out only orange pictures. Work with your toddler to glue them onto a large paper and write the word orange at the top. Talk about and describe each picture. See if your toddler can say some of the new words too! This is a fun way to learn about colors (or shapes) and learn new vocabulary words!

What other ways do you teach about beginning sounds?

What are your favorite type of collages to make?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Save the Earth Board Game and Kid's Co-op Linky!

Welcome to the Friday Kid's Co-op Linky! Today I am excited to share a Giant Earth Day game we created this week with you. It has been a huge hit with my kids because it is fun and also teaches about taking care of the Earth. 

Materials Needed:
  • colored cardstock
  • Save the Earth board game pieces
  • Markers (to draw your pictures)
  • lamination paper or a laminator (so you can keep this for awhile)
  • painters tape to stick the game board pieces to your floor
  • a large die


  1. Print out your game pieces onto different colored cardstock
  2. Draw your pictures to go along with each game piece (mine were terrible... you can all do better)
  3. Laminate your pieces
  4. Tape them to the floor
  5. Start playing!!
  • Roll the die 
  • Move forward however many spaces it says
  • Read the card you land on and do the activity or the action it says
  • Stay on whatever you card you land until your next turn

This activity combines just basic reminders about recycling and helping the Earth to stay healthy along with a few fun Earth-friendly activities. Some cards ask you to do an activity... like sort through your toys and find a few to donate or play a recycling toss game. We have played this game several times this week, including once as a family on Monday night.

Everyone had a great time!

You can download my version of the board game pieces here or just make your own.

The activities suggested in the game include...
  • Play a recycling toss game
  • Make an Earth Day Craft project. We made Earth Day stenciled towels!
  • Go outside and pick up trash
  • Sort through your toys and donate a few you don't need/use
  • Sing a song about the Earth... or make up your own?
  • Go on a hunt around your house for materials you can recycle
  • Go outside and enjoy the Earth! Go on a nature walk!
  • Make a special snack to celebrate Earth day. 

Do you have any other activities you'd add to our list?
How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Do you have a favorite activity you'd done this week? Come share it as part of the Kid's Co-op Linky! We'd love to feature you next week!

Kids Co-op

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