Toddler lesson: corn 🌽 🍿

After our very first toddler lesson at home focusing on pumpkins, I received some feedback for which I was very grateful.

The kids has a blast, and they learned and retained a lot of the material we covered.

Attention

Our focus is simply to grab the kids’ attention. They’re so little and have trouble paying attention. And when the kids are put in an environment that’s different or new there are so many distractions, everywhere. It’s unavoidable. But, we try to minimize them.

Corn Lesson Plan

Sticking to the autumn theme, this past week’s lesson was focused on corn! There are a lot of things made out of corn so we ended up shucking corn after watching a YouTube video about Corn on the Cob. And then we did a few sensory activities while we read some books.

Here is a picture of my lesson plan board!

Toddler lesson plan board focusing on CORN

Corn Structured Play

Our biggest class yet. Five kids vs. three kids made a difference! Just a lot going on all at once…good noise of course!

Also, there were a lot of activities to cover, but the transition was nice because I tried to plan it so the kids had a few songs and then books and then back to some sort of craft so they didn’t get bored.

Overall, it was a very fast-paced lesson focused on play.

Here is a printout focusing on the letter C, corn, and the Chinese character with pinyin for corn.

C is for Corn

Once we finished with the lesson portion of the lesson, we went upstairs and munched away on corn snacks!

Corn snack ideas!

  • Corn muffins
  • Corn chips
  • Tortilla chips with salsa
  • Corn on the cob with or without butter
  • Spanish corn snack called Quicos (found at Whole Foods)
  • Popcorn

Popcorn Flavor Station

Why not make it fun and interactive for your toddlers and friends? You can create a popcorn station where kids can experiment with different types of seasonings. I whipped out my seaweed and other spices from my spice rack, as well as some mainstream spices, such as cinnammon with sugar

Popcorn with flavor station

Get your own brown paper bags and shake ’em up with your favorite popcorn seasonings. Of course, my child went for it and made a pile of “Bangkok Blend” seasoning along with Chili Powder!

Mixing different flavors for popcorn seasoning

Hopping Corn

Oh and if you’re wondering about that large glass vase on the left-hand corner in the above picture, that was our hopping corn activity we found on www.onetimethrough.com.

Here is the link if you’re interested! http://onetimethrough.com/hopping-corn-science-activity/

The AftermathPopcorn lesson aftermath - homeschooling my toddler

Popcorn galore!  Yes, there were popcorn and kernels everywhere. It smelled like a movie theatre once we were finished with our lesson for the day! Lots of cleaning post-lesson. Thankful for all of the helpful moms in the group <3.

Welcome to parenthood. Done messy!

I hope you enjoyed reading and browsing through pictures:) Until next lesson….

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Ten Red Apples Felt Board Activity Prep

For my toddler homeschooling lesson this fall, I organized an activity that encourages participation!

Turn your lesson prep into a FUN time with your kids:) That’s what we did.

Ten Red Apples

After checking out some books from our local library, I selected Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins (ISBN: 0688167977) for our apple-themed felt board activity.

Preparation

Kai, my two-year old son, and I had a blast making the cute cut-outs for the hand-me-down felt board I inherited from my husband’s Aunt Linda. She used to teach pre-school, and she passed along all of her material to me. I’m so blessed and thankful for all of the resources! Thank you.

Here are some pictures from our activity.

I searched for clipart images of all of the animals in the book, from a horse to a donkey to a hen and a duck! Then, I printed them out on regular paper. I also printed out a large tree and some apples and the farmers.

Afterwards, I used Mod Podge Original 16-Ounce Glue, Gloss Finish Party Supplies, 16 Oz, 12 Pieces with some paint brushes to stick them on thick paper (cardstock).

I asked Kai to help me paint over the images I printed out. Definitely don’t be shy with the glue. I painted underneath the images and then Kai took over! After there was a nice coat over the images, we lay them out to dry for a few hours.

Then we started cutting them out. I used a hot glue gun and glued felt on the back of the images. To stick the apples on the tree, I used mounting putty, so they could easily be removed from the tree as we counted down from 10 to 0.

The Activity

For the actual felt board activity during the day of the lesson, I asked a parent volunteer to read the book as I assisted with the images. It was a semi-success. Some kids were very focused while others were not.

You win some and lose some.

We had so much fun with the whole process though:) and hope you enjoy!

Toddler Lesson: Pumpkins

Our first homeschooling lesson with friends last week was a success! My son Kai is one month away from hitting 2.5 years old, and I began to realize the importance of social interaction along with a structured form of learning and playing.

After a few failed attempts of teaching my toddler the alphabet at home on my own, I started talking with other moms and seeking some online resources for guidance and inspiration.

And, finally after speaking with a few of my mommy friends who I met at the library, I really got motivated and started developing a toddler curriculum during my recent trip.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Every Wednesday morning, for about an hour, I teach and direct play! That first day, we welcomed two of Kai’s friends to our house! They are both very close in age. The little boy is one month older than Kai and the little girl is three months younger than him. All the kids have their own personalities, which makes the class challenging yet educational. Everyone gets to show his or her strongpoints and they can learn a great deal from each other!

Lesson Plan and Poster

Below is my lesson plan. It’s a FREE PDF DOWNLOAD of PUMPKIN LESSON PLAN.

So feel free to view, download, and print at home!  I have included the sources I have used in the file, and additional resources will be listed in the Resources section of this post.

Pumpkins Lesson Plan

Here was my toddler homeschooling lesson poster:)

homeschooling a toddler pumpkin lesson poster board

As you may notice, it was a lot to cover! I ended up having to make an adjustment mid-way through the lesson and eliminated the life cycle of a pumpkin because it just didn’t seem like it was going to grab the kids’ attention.

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Water Activities

This one is a picture of the pumpkin washing station where I filled a large plastic bin with some warm water and added some brushes for the kids to clean off the dirt from the pumpkin. We did this activity indoors so I ended up putting a towel underneath the tub, but you could easily bring the classroom outdoors too!

In my mind, this teaches the toddlers to focus on cleaning something, and it demonstrates the importance of helping and working together to complete chores.

pumpkin washing and cleaning station for toddlers

To the right of my son you may also notice another plastic bin. This one was used to demonstrate the concepts of sink or float?! We first saw this activity in an episode of Blippi!  My son absolutely loves watching his educational videos. I think Blippi is very enthusiastic and definitely captures the attention of my little one. I enjoy watching Blippi with my son in small doses:)

Anyways, when I introduced sink or float to the kids, they automatically began putting all the objects into the water and their goal was to play. This was perfectly fine because it was getting their attention and it was more of a “free play” activity! It wasn’t my goal, but we were totally happy with the kids enjoying themselves. That is really our goal here: for the kids to have fun, learn to play with other kids, and conduct their own experiments and create their own form of curious play.

Pumpkin Painting and Decorating

In between my structured teaching, we handed out brushes, paint, and smocks, and everyone brought their own pumpkins to paint! The kids had fun painting. Afterwards, we let them dry and I bought Halloween-themed foam stickers from the Dollar Tree for the kids to stick them on after our Chinese lesson!

toddlers painting pumpkins for a homeschooling craft activity

In addition to painting and decorating their very own pumpkins, the kids got a chance to help measure out the ingredients while we made slime for the first time!

Pirate pumpkinSkeleton pumpkin

Pumpkin Slime-Making

One of my mommy friends brought pumpkin seeds, which were so scrumptious! She got the ones that were seeded and salted. YUM! We all got to taste-test these pumpkin seeds before we added them to our slime mixture.

The recipe we used to make this version of slime can be found here.

It took a little bit to figure out how to not make it as sticky, but it turned out to be such an amazing sensory activity for them.

pumpkin slime with pumpkin seeds

Kai and I ended up playing with it after everyone left, and we must have spent over a half an hour on this activity.

Little Passports

Chinese for Pumpkin

Here are the Chinese characters for pumpkin. In pinyin it’s nánguā.

Chinese characters for pumpkin

I have included a printout for you to download for Pp is for Pumpkin, which includes the Chinese characters for pumpkin.

The Chinese resources I used during my lesson are found in the Resources section of this post.

$1 Craft Supplies at Dollar Tree!

Pumpkin Bread

Another mom friend made pumpkin bread and brought it for everyone to share. It was so thoughtful! We really have a wonderful and creative team of moms in the group. So happy.

After the lesson and activities, the kids got to play upstairs in Kai’s play room. And, we all got to have some pumpkin bread and other snacks. It was a nice time to just wind down and do some bonding.

Feedback

I was so happy with the feedback! One thing I am going to try and focus on is getting the kids’ attentions as soon as we start the lesson.

It had been a while since one of the little girls had been to our house, and the little boy had never been here before. Hence, distractions galore:)

We are hoping the next time the kids come over, I will plan for more songs to grab everyone’s attention. Maybe playing some dance music or adding a few more songs in the beginning of the lesson to set the toddlers in “lesson mode”?

Kai, of course, was just too comfortable and drawing on the whiteboard while I was reading the books, haha.

One suggestion was to do a rotation, where, every week we would travel to other mom’s houses and everyone would plan their own lessons. Such a wonderful network of moms here. And an amazing idea…that we would definitely want to do after the holidays. Why? Well, one of my mommy friends is leaving for a month to visit family out-of-state. And, the following month, our family will be away for a month and a half, traveling.

Everything will return back to a normal schedule come January 2019. So, we could essentially start this rotational homeschooling program with the toddlers then. For the remainder of the autumn season, I have developed the curriculum and will continue to host the kids at my house or wherever we are. And, during our time away from each other, the moms will have the choice to use my weekly lesson plans and do their own activities at home.

It was such a great first run. 

I’m super excited to be doing this with my toddler. He’s having such an amazing time learning. It also gives me purpose. I am thankful for having friends so Kai is able to socialize and interact with them.

xErgo baby Love Carries On/Go Far Stay Close

Field Trip Tie-In

Before or after each lesson, my intention is to bring the classroom outside for the kids to explore and experience things first-hand. With the colorful changing seasons of New England, what a perfect way for us to do some family bonding while reinforcing a lesson topic:)

Our intention was to visit a local pumpkin patch and do some hayrides. Unfortunately, he started getting a runny nose, the coughs and sneezes:(

Last night, he was up a few hours because he couldn’t breath from his nose. I honestly swear this kid gets sick so many times during the year. It’s at least once a month if he’s interacting with other people. I’m praying his immune system is solid once he gets older because he’s probably caught 70% of the colds out there.

Maybe we will take a family trip to a local farm that incorporates all of the autumn topics I’m covering.

Resources

Here are the links I used throughout the lesson:

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Thank you ALL for reading! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment:)

Homeschooling my Toddler

Homeschooling my Toddler

So I’ve made the decision to start teaching my 2-year old at home. I have been a full-time stay at home parent for almost two years now! October 1, 2018 will mark my 2nd anniversary.

Little PassportsMy Son

Kai has been such an instrumental addition to our family. He’s literally been life-changing.

My son playing tennis
Things he’s into now: ninjas, grapes, pretend fighting, running around, exercising, watching tv + movies, playing with puzzles, building with legos, and eating dino chicken nuggets.

Let’s just say these two years have been the most challenging yet most rewarding so far.

My Decision

Let’s just say being at home isn’t easy. I’ve always said the hardest part about being a Stay at Home Mom is actually staying at home. I get fulfillment and enjoyment in taking Kai outside to see the world; whether it be a day trip to a children’s museum or zoo, a family RV trip to Canada, or a simple trip to the grocery store.

I enjoy staying busy. Some days too busy.

After talking with a few other parents, and simply observing my toddler throughout the day, I have come to the realization that structured play or structured learning peeks his interest. It grabs his attention. Similar to him playing a game on his tablet or watching a captivating movie or tv show.

My son napping

When Kai gets sick, he’s out of commission for one to two weeks at a time. I don’t like exposing him to other people/other kids. Hence, we are stuck at home. After staying home with him for 1-2 weeks, I came to the realization my 2-year old spends way too much of his time watching television.

I didn’t want to push him too hard while he was sick. But, hey, I felt trapped.

Boredom, that was the fuel. My ignition. That spear-headed my decision to seriously commit to homeschooling my toddler.

Little PassportsSchedule

Yes, I must be strong. Stick to a solid schedule.  Let’s get motivated.

I have such an impact and influence on my toddler’s life. He’s grown to be such a “big kid”.

Once I start, I can tailor my weekly schedule to whatever seems to work for him.

Time + Resources

On my recent trip to Las Vegas, I took my travel time to start creating lesson for my son. I was so productive during my flight it wasn’t even funny. Guess when you’re stuck on a flight for five hours (window seat), you get inspired.

I have also spoken to a friend who has a son that is only a month older than Kai. He will also be joining in on some of the lessons at my house.

I’m hoping adding another child in the mix might encourage my son. Mainly because I have attempted to teach Kai the A,B,C’s (well just A, B, C, and D). We had stuffed animals attend our “class”. And, it was fairly challenging to teach my son to focus. Or as we say “center his qi” 😉

CHINESE! Yes, I want to incorporate teaching some Chinese to Kai during these lessons. I have yet to do extensive research, but I know I may take a little trip to where I used to work, The U.S. China Institute at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, to see if they may have some resources for children.

The library! I have gone to the local library and have borrowed some books about parenting/homeschooling. Most of them are mainly for reference and motivation. I did get a few ideas from a few of them. A few of the books are a bit outdated (in reference to some of the website resources listed). But, overall my research will hopefully be helpful.

Homeschooling books from the library

I have listed the books I borrowed from the library below with ISBN:

  • The Homeschooling Handbook by Lorilee Lippincott
    • ISBN: 1-62873-617-8
  • School Starts at Home by Cheri Fuller
    • ISBN: 1-57683-600-2
  • Ready…Start…School! by Sandra F. Rief
    • ISBN: 0-7352-0299-0
  • The Everything Guide to Homeschooling by Sherri Linsenbach
    • ISBN: 1-4405-9069-9

And, last but not least, here are some websites I have been using for inspiration in creating my lesson plans:

  • www.childcarelounge.com
  • www.naturalbeachliving.com
  • www.letteroftheweek.com
  • www.enchantedlearning.com
  • http://preschoolpowolpackets.blogspot.com/
  • www.dltk-kids.com

 Wish me luck

Yes, I’ll need lots of luck. And prayers. Please pray for me. That I may be strong and stay consistent. I’m just hoping to capture their attention:)

My expectation is simply to see if my little teaching experiment works or doesn’t work. I may have to make adjustments and tailor my teaching to their interests. We will see…only time, perseverance, and trial/error will tell…

I plan to share and post pictures of my lessons and activities. Super excited to begin this chapter in our lives.

Ah, let’s do this!

Little PassportsSuggestions?

If anyone has any suggestions or if you have been there and done that, please share!

Full-Time Mommy in Training, Present!

Little Passports

Hello!

Welcome to our blog! We share our own personal experiences about the challenges and joys of traveling with a toddler and a dog, how we plan for our vacations, and give you travel tips from our personal experiences. I also enjoy cooking and crafting, so there will be a few posts about those topics as well.

Thanks for visiting!


Click to read about our Caribbean cruise for four!

Read about our road trip across all 50 states!


There’s a faint line
between
being an influencer and
being influenced by others,
and for most of us
it’s the latter
-Christina Ho Falcon

Kai’s 2nd Birthday Party!

We still cannot believe our little baby turned two at the end of April. It’s been almost a full month since we hosted a Moana-themed birthday party for him at Normandy Farms Campground.

Michael and I were on the fence about having another big birthday party for Kai, but after speaking with Michael’s mom we were convinced we had to have something for him! He’s been obsessed with watching Moana.  I even got him the soundtrack to listen to while driving in the car.

Why a campground? Our family had recently purchased a small travel trailer back in January to try it out. We had a chance in April, right after my husband, Michael, finished his busy season. Kai and Stanley both loved it!

Invitation

We took some pictures of Kai and made an invitation. I got some invitations printed at a local CVS on 4×6 photo paper, and then I glued them to some colored card stock. On the back on the invitations, I printed out a piece of paper with some information about the campground, directions, and the guest policy.

I also eventually created a Facebook event (to stay socially connected).

Cake

Our initial thought was to create a donut tower for Kai’s birthday cake, since he LOVES donuts!

So, we ended up ordering 3 dozen donuts from Confectionery Designs in Rehoboth, MA.  The owners needed us to place the donut order by Friday, 4/13 to be ready and picked up the morning of Saturday, 4/28. These donuts are so delicious!

These are the flavors we ordered:
6 – vanilla glazed – all green frosting
6- maple bacon – with bacon glaze
6- jelly filled – sugar coated
6- lemon raspberry – with raspberry glaze on top
6- banana cream – chocolate frosted top filled with crushed bananas
6- cinnamon – with a cinnamon / streusel glaze

Total price for donuts: $120.00

We anticipated about 20 people to come, but I wanted to make sure we had enough donuts since we weren’t sure about the cake. But, we ended up getting a large and fantastically-designed cake!

The story: My mother-in-law, Christine, ended up offering the put the donut tower together. Then, she decided she was going to make a cake. The plan was the cake was going to sit on top of the tower of donuts. Well, the cake just ended up being so big and super heavy that the cupcake tower stand wouldn’t be able to hold the weight of the cake.

Here are some pictures of the cake and the donut tower!

Food

Now for the food, we were going back and forth on what to serve. My husband initially wanted to keep it simple by only grilling burgers and hot dogs, but in the end we did neither.

Here are some pictures of the food we served: pulled pork with sweet Hawaiian rolls, seafood salad on croissants, assorted snacks, and beverages.

Kai had so much fun playing outside and seeing everyone! I can’t thank Michael’s family enough for helping us get the leis, paint the Kakamora coconuts, baking cookies, creating a wonderful cake, and helping Kai open presents!

Here are some pictures from the party!

Kai is two! <3

Kai’s 1st Birthday Party!

Last year we celebrated our son’s very first birthday. He was born a week or so after tax season, and I had all of busy season to plan his birthday bash!  I had so much fun putting it all together.

In 2009, Disney’s Up was released, and I remembered it being such a feel-good movie. I also recalled it being visually appealing with a wonderful theme and story.

Planning

It takes a lot to plan a child’s first birthday, especially when you have a theme you want. There are so many ideas out there, and it’s so hard to pick and choose what you want to incorporate and what you want to eliminate. There’s only so much a mom and family can do.

In the end it’s all about the child. Yes, he was only one. So the party was really to satisfy the parents’ and grandparents’ wants and wishes for a memorable birthday party for their child or grandchild.

Kai can look back on pictures/stories/videos on his 1st birthday party!

The invitations
We started off by searching for and ordering Kai a pilot’s hat online. I found one for less than $2USD. Downside: it took a month to get here. I used Photoshop and Canva as my design tools and Vistaprint to print the postcard invitations! Here’s how they came out.

The Party!
It took a lot of planning and help from family and friends, but we pulled it off! We lucked out with the weather because our little cape could not have accommodated the number of people in attendance. Here’s a link to our party pictures.

The Guestbook
During the party, we had a welcome table where we asked our guests to sign a ‘balloon’. They were card stock paper circles I punched out. During the party, I took a lot of pictures. One of the pictures just happened to be perfect for the ‘guestbook’.  Here’s how it came out.

2nd Birthday!

Even though daddy did not want to do something this large until Kai turns 5, we are already planning for his 2nd birthday party!

This time we won’t be having it at home. I can’t wait to share more details for his upcoming party:)

How I keep my toddler busy in winter

Go to the mall = FREE, aside from shopping
Some malls have indoor play areas with adult supervision so kids are able to play. I sometimes head to the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, MA when it’s raining outside or if I’m planning on doing light shopping. I would choose that mall vs. the Providence Place Mall because there is an indoor play area so he can put his energy somewhere:) There’s also the Warwick Mall near us which has a Carousel for entertainment.

Visit Chick-Fil-A or similar place – $
This fast-food chain usually has an indoor play area for kids. While small, it does the trick! You can always just get a little something to snack or a simple beverage and then your toddler can play! One thing to keep in mind is you typically cannot bring food into the play area and you may need to bring socks for your baby if they have a no shoe policy.

Work out! = FREE – $
Every week, I go to the gym at least once. At my gym there is child care in the morning from 9am-12pm and then again from 4pm-8pm on the weekdays. During the weekend, they are open from 9am-11am on Saturdays. It’s not too bad! If I want to just take an hour class, I can drop Kai off with the caregiver. He usually has fun with the other kids. this also is a great way for him to socialize with other children. It was tough for him to leave me at first, but after 2-3 times, he got used to it. I never leave him for more than 1.5 hours. One perk is there is a sauna and showers as well as tanning beds (if you tan). I haven’t gotten to take advantage of those amenities, but they sound nice huh?

Can’t afford a gym membership or don’t like to get sweaty in public? There’s always the option of doing an exercise routine at home! You can find videos online or just make up your own and get your toddler involved! Make it fun to work out. Kai loves music, especially dancing to the best. You can try to make up a routine at home and have a dance party while breaking in a sweat! Just remember to be safe and consult with a medical professional before doing anything out of the ordinary!

Go to an indoor play area – $
Such places include Chuck E. Cheese. One local place in Warwick, RI is called Kidz Kastle. There is also a place in Taunton, MA called Round 1, which is a place for the whole family. That’s pretty much an all-in-one arcade, pool hall, bowling alley, bar and kids indoor play area. In my area, in Seekonk, MA there are Fantasyland and the Seekonk Speedway.

Visit a local pet store – FREE – $
My son loves animals! Sometimes when our dog runs out of dog food or is in need of a little something special, I bring Kai with me to run errands. Meanwhile, there are usually some fun, cute and also creepy little critters on display and for sale at the local pet store.

Kai loves running up to the fish tanks on display and pointing to the different species. And he loves dinosaurs, so naturally he is drawn to the prehistoric-looking lizards and reptiles on display too!

And who doesn’t love watching little rodents run a muck in their little confined spaces? Gerbils, mice, ferrets, and more. Sometimes there’s also some rabbits. Although most of the time, they’re just sleeping.

Oh and don’t forget about the little birds flying about in their cages and mingling with their companions!

Visit your local library  = FREE
The library is a great resource. The libraries in my local area have wonderful programs, such as story time, play time, or music and dance programs. It’s a great place to network with other parents, grandparents, and caretakers. It also serves as a wonderful place to get your little one interested in reading books!

Take swim lessons – $$
Since we live in RI, I was initially drawn Pods Swimming, which is a local aquatic swimming education center. They were building a brand new facility last year, and unfortunately construction was a month behind. Therefore, I enrolled my then-10-month old child in a swim class at my local YMCA. They start accepting children as early at 6 months old! We had so much fun. Although, just keep in mind these are introductory classes to get your baby familiar with the water. Safety was emphasized in these classes along with fun activities.

Play in the snow = FREE
Kai went sledding for the first time a few weeks ago. While it only lasted about a half an hour to 45 minutes, we were able to both indulge in some rich hot chocolate!

Sometimes when it snows a lot, I choose to take our dog Stanley in the backyard to do his business instead of going out for a walk with Kai’s stroller. So, I suit Kai up and we run around and explore our snow-covered backyard!

Get a Children’s Museum or Discovery Center Membership = $$
We were fortunate enough to be gifted an annual pass to the Providence Children’s Museum for Kai’s Christmas present! We opted to go with the Family Plus Membership, which was $150. It allows a total of 6 people to visit the museum. Kids who are 12 months and older have to pay full price. He loves playing with the water. It’s a great place to bring your child during the winter!

Meet up with family and friends = FREE
While I thoroughly enjoy spending time with Kai and Stanley I also like to have some time to have a conversation or two with other adults. Also, if your friends and family have kids of their own, they can play together! If you have family nearby, take advantage! If they’re anything like my parents or in-laws, they love bonding with their grandchild. I also have a few friends who love hanging with Kai. It’s a win-win. Maybe you can even cook together and plan out meals!

Get a zoo membership
Sometimes when there’s a warmer winter day, I like to take Kai to the zoo. It’s usually or crowded at all during the weekday, especially in the wintertime! I guess it also depends on where you live though. We sometimes just watch the animals for a longer period of time, and since Kai loves those pre-historic looking creatures, we watch the Komodo dragon (which is in an indoor area of the zoo).

Read – FREE
Kai asks me to read to him about five times a day! He tends to gravitate towards busy books. The peek-a-boo ones where you lift the flaps up and see something. He really likes me to read the same book several times, or go to a specific page and gets mad if we don’t read that page many times.

While I like borrowing books at the library, I also enjoy owning them because he can always go back to them whenever he wants to. I’ve discovered a local second-hand store where you can buy and sell your old baby items. It’s called Once Upon a Child in Warwick, RI. You know when you go into a Savers, a Goodwill or a Salvation Army and there’s a weird musty stench? This used store isn’t anything like that. I’ve only gone there twice, but they have a ton of toys and clothes. I have gotten three of Kai’s current favorite books there.

The other day, I celebrated my friend’s birthday by going to trivia at this bookstore and cafe called An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA. It has a wonderful children’s section! I plan on going back one of these days for story time.

Visit a local botanical garden – $
Most of these gardens have large a large or multiple greenhouses you can visit with a wide variety of plant species! Kai enjoys exploring new areas and appreciates large open spaces so he can run around.

Join a support group = FREE or $
If you are a new mom, there are usually local support groups you can join! There are Meetup Groups, which are usually private, that you can request to join. There’s sometimes a small fee (maybe $10-$50 a year) to participate. Kai and I ended up going to a mommy Bible study at a local church. There was nursery during the session, so Kai was able to interact with other kids. It was a wonderful way to fellowship as well as grow closer to God.

Get your toddler involved in cleaning:) = FREE
Kai keeps me on my toes. He loves to see people cleaning, especially sweeping or mopping. And shoveling or raking. I guess he just has a fascination with sticks. Sometimes, when we are hanging at out home, he asks me to sweep and clean the floors because it is “dirty”. He also begs me to take the vacuum cleaner out and use it.

Enroll in a music class = $$
This year, we decided to enroll Kai in a music class. He absolutely loves it.  Last year we ended up going to a free introductory music class to get a taste for what to expect if we decided to sign up this year. It was nice to see the different activities and just a a little taste of everything. At the time, Kai was still just beginning to take his first steps, so I selected swimming vs. music class. This year, we selected Lori’s Music Together. It has been such a fun few weeks already! It’s amazing to see Kai’s progress. He’s singing parts of songs and mimicking all of the dance moves at home! You just need to show him one time, and he remembers! It’s hard to believe because I sometimes think he’s not paying any attention to what the teacher is doing.

Go on a movie date at home – FREE
Since my almost-two year old cannot typically sit still for more than ten minutes or so, we haven’t yet attempted to go to a real movie theater. He usually does pretty well when he’s a little tired, but not over-tired.

On certain days, especially if he’s feeling under the weather and he needs a little more TLC, I will make some popcorn, get a juice box for him and maybe even think about giving him little lollipop treat while we watch a G or PG-rated movie together. Since he is still taking naps during the day (well mostly just one long nap now), he sometimes falls asleep watching a movie.

His current favorite movie is Moana. Michael thinks he has a crush on her.

Play at home – FREE
There are ways to make play time fun, creative and interactive! Playing with your toddler and teaching him to play pretend expands his imagination. Don’t be afraid to get messy either! You can always take a bath afterwards!

You can play with the idea of planning activities around different themes matching holidays or cultural traditions. Or, tailor play and activity time at home for your toddler to learn about the basics, such as colors or numbers.

You can invite his little friends over too! This also teaches your child or children to be more social with other kids. While this can be challenging at first, it’s good to be consistent with it. Since Kai is an only-child he doesn’t understand the concept of sharing. Well he’s getting more used to the idea, at least:)

Some of his favorite things to play with now are play-doh and instruments; play dirt and monster trucks; his train wooden tracks and train set; his CAT diggers, bulldozers, dump trucks, and front-end loaders; his Hot Wheels cars; cutting his wooden fruits and vegetables with this Melissa & Doug set; and watching PBS Kids!

Got any more ideas?
These are just some ideas! There are plenty of ways to entertain your toddler. I have honestly bonded so much with my 21 month year old. It has been such a joy to watch him learn things so quickly. I feel so lucky to be spending this time with him.  If anyone has any other ideas, please share! I am totally open to trying new things to keep busy.