Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Tips for a Relaxed and Fun Tummy Time

I’ve got a lot of ideas for kindergarten activities. Unfortunately, some take a looong time to craft and write about. On top of that, I’ve been sick and E. has been keeping me busy. I hope that I’ll have some free time soon, but I have to admit that I really love being silly with her and enjoying our lazy mornings together.

That’s why today I’m going to quickly talk about tummy time and leave the other ideas for a different day. Maybe these tips will help your babies. E. hates tummy time even now, after four months of practising…but at least now she tolerates it and has made visible progress. Some babies just don’t like spending time on their tummies, but I kind of understand it: they can see so much more when they’re carried or relaxing on their backs.

Let’s start with the basics of tummy time:

Why is tummy time important?

Because it helps your baby build back, abdominal, arm, and neck muscles. This, in turn, will help her crawl, sit, track objects, and even walk later on.

When can you start?

Well, the sooner you start, the better. You can place your baby on her tummy as soon as you get home from the hospital.

Where can you do it?

I suggest linking tummy time with a daily routine, because that way you won’t forget to do it often enough. For example, after every nappy change or after waking up from a nap. Try not to do it right after a feeding, because the baby might have a hard time exercising on a full stomach. J

How long should tummy time last?

Of course, some babies are fine and relaxed from the very beginning when placed on their tummies, so you can let them spend as much time as they like there. However, some might dread that moment. The main thing is to make it fun and enjoyable for them! Most of the resources I’ve read say that tummy time should be 30 min/day by 3 months, but you should just see what your baby needs.

What will you need for tummy time?

  • hard mattress or surface (the changing pad might be a great place for this)
  • a blanket or muslin cloth – optional, but I recommend it if you want to protect the bed or couch from all that baby drool
  • some toys that your baby likes, especially brightly coloured ones or toys that make noise (rattles, bells, rain sticks, etc.)
  • a positive attitude – it might take a long time until your baby feels comfortable on her tummy, so don't get discouraged

Tips on how to make tummy time more fun:

  • use a Pilates ball with a blanket over it (with caution!) – place the baby on the blanket and slowly move the ball from side to side and back to front. This raises their awareness of the position of their bodies (proprioception sense).
  • if your baby is having a hard time supporting her chest on her arms, use a rolled-up towel or blanket under it. This takes some of the weight off her arms.
  • place toys or yourself at eye level, so your baby has a reason to lift her head. Moving the toys or your face from side to side will help her sight develop.
  • as I mentioned above, have tummy time on a hard surface, so your baby can lift herself by pushing on it. However, avoid very hard surfaces, in case the baby drops her head. 

If your baby hates being on her tummy, use these alternatives:

  • sit down and then place your baby on your thighs (perpendicular). It helps if you place the baby on your lap with one of your legs higher, to elevate her chest
  • lie down with your head slightly elevated, then place the baby on tour tummy. Chat, sing songs, and make funny faces to make things more fun.
  • whenever you carry your baby, use a tummy-down hold – this worked well with E. during the first two months, when she refused to be placed on her tummy.
I think that’s about it. If you have any tips, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by!

https://www.pexels.com/

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Toys for Babies

Before having a baby, I had no clue what toys she would need during the first couple of months. The youngest kids I’ve taught are at least one. I have to admit that I got carried away and bought toys that she won’t even get to use until after she turns one, because I’m a sucker for wooden toys and I can’t help myself from buying them.

But after the first month and a half have passed, here’s a list of the toys that we have used and that she found interesting.

First of all, our mobile. It has saved our lives – before buying it, she needed us to entertain her CONSTANTLY. Now she can be in her bed just looking at the mobile for about 15 minutes. That way, I get to eat. I’m there with her, talking and imitating her coos, but it helps that she doesn’t want to be in my lap while I eat.



For peek-a-boo games and exploring sight and touch, a scarf will come in handy. E. is not a big fan, but I hope she will be more engaged as she grows.

I love reading and singing to her, so hand and finger puppets are great for that. She likes some of them, but she might grow more interested later on. We have quite a big collection of puppets from IKEA.

Soft toys are great for comfort. She also likes it when I touch her face or arm with them.
We haven’t had the chance to establish a bed time routine that includes reading yet, but I read to her whenever I have a free hand and she has the patience. I’ll write a blog post about our favourite books later on.

We also have two touchy feely books that she likes to look at: they’ve got mirrors, rattles, things that can be pulled, and squeezed, and teethers. They can be attached to the pram, so they might be useful later on.

I know it’s not a toy, but we have fun when I sing, talk, or look at her through the TP roll. Give it a try!

Wooden musical instruments are nice to have at any age. I use them to get her attention, but I’m sure she will like playing when she grows. LIDL has some nice wooden musical instruments, at least here in Finland.

We sometimes play with shadows with our light projector/white noise machine. It’s also useful at night, but if you don’t want to invest in one, you can use an app for white noise.

Our whale projects images of the sea and sea animals and has songs and white noise
E. prefers being carried or watching us, so she doesn’t enjoy the baby gym that much. I’m hoping that once she gets to use her hands, she will try to grab the toys and spend more time there. What she does look at is at the mirror that’s hanging from it. I haven’t found any developmental pillows in stock, but I think I will buy one soon. She enjoys being carried on her tummy, so she gets to lift her head quite a lot, but she hates tummy time on the blanket. She gets easily frustrated and starts crying. Maybe one of these will help:

I love our Little Dutch play mat, but E. prefers brighter colours

You’ll need a couple of toys for your stroller, to keep your baby entertained during walks or while you are running errands.

E. is crazy about bath time, so I’m going to buy some bath toys and squirtees as soon as she can be in the tub for a longer time. The only drawback is that she always cries when I take her out and then it’s difficult to calm her down.

You can use a rattle from the first weeks. They help babies improve their eye muscles, while following them from left to right. We have a few that make different sounds. Babies might prefer those with bright colours and loud noises.

If you have any other toys that your babies enjoyed playing with, let me know so we can try them too!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Webinars for Teachers

Our place has been turned upside-down…we have a new family member and a whole lot of mess. That’s why I’ve been extremely busy over the past month and a half. But I finally had some minutes to spare between calming a screaming baby and dirty diapers to write this. A while ago, I stumbled across this wonderful website packed with webinars for teachers. I thought I’d share it with you, because I’ve discovered a lot of amazing resources, books, and ideas from some of the presentations.

You can join edweb (https://home.edweb.net/) for free. Once you’ve joined, you can find communities based on the topics that interest you the most. Here are some that I found interesting:



After you have registered and watched a live webinar, you will receive a certificate. However, if you don’t get the chance to do that when the live presentation is, then you can view a recording, after which you need to answer a few basic questions to get the certificate. You’ll find all the communities’ webinar recordings, PPT presentations, and other information if you go to “Browse edWebinars”.
Here is how my page looks:


I feel that some of these resources have helped me improve my teaching techniques. My kids have also been captivated by some of the new activities we’ve done based on what I saw. Give it a try! If you’ve been teaching for a long time, you will probably welcome fresh ideas with open arms. If you’re a new teacher, the advice you’ll get might prove extremely useful.

I hope you’ll find something for you there!

Thursday, 22 November 2018

How to Make an Advent Calendar for Kids

I usually make an advent calendar in December, because it’s a wonderful way for kids to keep track of how many days there are until Christmas and also it’s a fun way to practice number recognition: I print some fun activities that the kids enjoy doing, then place them in small envelopes. I use clothes pegs with numbers to hang them throughout the room. The kids have to find the numbers that indicate the current date, open the envelope, and read what it says. We open the calendar during morning circle, to ensure we have enough time for the activities.

Here are a few examples of activities:
  • read your favorite book related to winter or Christmas
  • watch a Christmas movie
  • sing the song you have prepared for the Christmas party
  • make a Christmas tree from Lego blocks
  • draw a Christmas tree
  • draw a snowman
  • pretend you are skating to music
  • watch some videos of Christmas songs
  • listen to Christmas songs during lunch
  • listen to a Christmas story from British Council Kids
  • sing your favorite song
  • sing "I'm a little snowman" from super simple learning
  • take a photo of the group
  • listen to a Christmas story from British Council Kids
  • make Christmas cards
  • do puzzles with friends
  • write a letter to Santa
  • tomorrow you can bring your soft toy to daycare
  • enjoy playing with your friends
  •  enjoy a delicious surprise from your teacher
  • gym session - kids' choice
  • have a movie party!
What activities would you add?



Thursday, 25 October 2018

Halloween Flash Freebie - Count and Graph

I know it's been a while since I last posted new products. To be honest, I've been postponing doing that because of the hassle I have to go through to protect the files.

Today I finally had some time to buy an app and get to work, so here is a freebie to celebrate not being lazy anymore: Halloween Freebie - Count and Graph. :)

You can also download the product from my TPT store by clicking on the image below:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Halloween-Count-and-Graph-Flash-Freebie-4153675

Friday, 19 October 2018

Fun Activities for Babies Under 1

I’ve been writing a lot about activities for kids over 3, because I haven’t been teaching younger ones since starting the blog. This article is a bit different: it’s meant for first-time parents or those who work with newborns. Sometimes it’s difficult to find game ideas for babies, and of course, the most important thing at this age is being present for your baby.

All kids will develop their motor skills, language skills, and social skills at their own pace, but these activities are meant to stimulate them and give them some help. In addition, games teach important skills, such as object permanence, counting skills coordination of words and actions, and language skills.


Here are some activities you can use to teach your baby:
· Make a nature treasure box, by collecting different objects that you find in nature in a large egg carton. Show them to your child and name each of them. Explore the surrounding, name things that you see while taking walks.
· Play Peek-a-boo – I see you. You can also use hand puppets or stick puppets.
· Play “This Little Piggy” while changing the baby or during massage time
This little piggy went to market, (Wiggle the "big" toe)
This little piggy stayed home, (Wiggle the second toe)
This little piggy had roast beef, (Wiggle the third toe)
This little piggy had none, (Wiggle the fourth toe)
And this little piggy cried "wee wee wee" all the way home. (Wiggle the small toe and tickle the bottom of the foot)
· Make silly faces - hold your baby close (20-35 cm), make eye contact, and poke your tongue out, make big eyes, smile, make silly noises.
· Read books with hand or finger puppets, or just play with your baby and hand puppets. The puppet can tickle her, take her hand, and name her body parts.
· Play tickle games
· Roll your baby on a mattress. It will help her strengthen her neck muscles. You can also roll a ball in front of her: she will follow it at first, then probably she’ll try to get it.
· Place different fruits and veggies close to your baby’s nose, so she can smell them. Try tangerines, lemons, cucumber, etc.
· Hold your baby and make eye contact. Chat to your baby, respond to her gurgles and coos and repeat the sounds she makes.
· Place your baby on a playmat and blow bubbles around her.
· Gently squirt your baby with a water gun to tickle her tummy
· Give your baby some pans and wooden spoons to play with and explore. Handling objects of different sizes, shapes, and materials will help her learn about their properties.
· If your baby crawls already, build an obstacle course out of cushions and blankets.
· Build a fort out of blankets and read your baby a story in there.
· Build a tower out of everyday objects: cardboard boxes, empty plastic containers, Tupperware, empty ketchup bottles, etc.
· make a photo album and show your baby the photos of relatives and the family
· explore soft-textured items: silk scarves, cotton cloths, feathers, fluffy stuffed toys. Place your baby on a cozy surface and gently touch her with these. Naming the objects will help your baby learn the words later on.
· use peepers to talk to your baby and sing silly songs with your hands
· place your baby on her tummy whenever possible, in front of a mirror. Join her on the floor, make silly faces, and enjoy the time spent together.
· while changing the baby or massaging her, do the bicycle with her legs.
· dance with your baby in your lap.
· gather things from around the house that make sounds: aluminum foil, waxed paper, toys that make sounds, or cellophane and let her hear the sounds they make
· in a dark room, place your baby on her back and play with a flashlight on the wall. Listen to quiet nature sounds in the background.
· use a lamp and your hands to make shadows on the wall
· choose a soft toy and place it in/on/under/behind a large box. Pretend to be looking for it and be surprised when you find it.
· sing action songs and do the movements with your baby’s body (clapping hands, stomping feet, patting head, rubbing tummy)
· make sensory bottles and let your baby play with them
· retell familiar stories using puppets or a felt board.
· dance with scarves.
· make a sensory tray with boiled pasta/spaghetti. You can also use food colouring to give it some colour.
· hide some toys in the sand pit and try to find them with your baby
· place your baby in your lap and pretend you are driving a car, by making noises and honking
· sort colourful pompoms into cups/plastic containers
· explore musical instruments: maracas, drums, egg shakers, tambourine

Singing songs and dancing with/for your baby will help not only her language development, but also intellectual, social, emotional, and motor development. There are plenty of songs for you to choose from, but here’s a list of my favourite ones.

Super Simple Songs:

1. Open Shut Them is a great song for teaching basic adjectives and gross motor skills. Even though your baby won’t be able to sing along yet, she will enjoy watching you make silly gestures and playing peek-a-boo with her.

Open shut them, open shut them.
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open shut them, open shut them.
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

Big and small.
Big and small. Big and small.
Big, big, big, big. Small, small, small.
Big and small. Big and small.
Big, big, big, big. Small, small, small.

Please. No, thank you.
Please. No, thank you. Please. No, thank you.
Please, please, please, please. No, thank you.
Please. No, thank you. Please. No, thank you.
Please, please, please, please. No, thank you.

Fast and slow.
Fast and slow. Fast and slow.
Fast, fast, fast, fast. Slow, slow, slow.
Fast and slow. Fast and slow.
Fast, fast, fast, fast. Slow, slow, slow.

Loud and quiet.
Loud and quiet. Loud and quiet.
Loud, loud, loud, loud. Shh…quiet.
Loud and quiet. Loud and quiet.
Loud, loud, loud, loud. Shh…quiet.

Peek-a-boo.
Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo.
Peek-a, peek-a, peek-a-boo!
Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo.
Peek-a, peek-a, peek-a-boo!

2. Are You Hungry? – you can sing this while eating or feeding the baby, to teach food vocabulary.

Are you hungry?
Yes, I am.
Are you hungry?
Yes, I am.
Mmm…a banana! (replace ”banana” with whatever your baby is eating then)
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!

3. Baby Shark is a cute song that has been translated in other languages too. If you can’t find it in your mother tongue, no need to worry, because its lyrics are extremely easy.

Baby shark, doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo.
Baby shark, doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo.
Baby shark, doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo.
Baby shark. (then replace ”baby” with other family members: mama, papa, grandma, grandpa)

4. Uh-Huh is the perfect song to sing with hand puppets or finger puppets.

Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh. Unh-unh.
Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh. Unh-unh.
Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh. Unh-unh.
Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh. Unh-unh.

Yes, yes, yes, yes.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Yes, yes, yes, yes.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

5. Peek-a-boo – what kid doesn’t love peek-a-boo? This is the classical game sung to a cute tune

Peekaboo.
Peekaboo.
Peekaboo.
I see you.

Peekaboo.
Peekaboo.
I see you.

Peekaboo.
Peekaboo.
Peekaboo.
Peekaboo.

6. How Many Fingers – this is a great song for bath time. Your baby will get familiar with counting and have some fun playing with her fingers and toes.

How many fingers on one hand?
How many fingers on one hand?
How many fingers on one hand?
Let’s all count together.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

How many fingers on two hands?
How many fingers on two hands?
How many fingers on two hands?
Let’s all count together.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
6, 7, 8, 9, 10
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Clap clap clap your hands.
X X X X X
Clap clap clap your hands.
X X X X X
Clap clap clap your hands.
X X X X X
Clap your hands with me.
X X X X X

Let’s count our toes.

How many toes on one foot?
How many toes on one foot?
How many toes on one foot?
Let’s all count together.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

How many toes on two feet?
How many toes on two feet?
How many toes on two feet?
Let’s all count together.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
6, 7, 8, 9, 10
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Stomp stomp stomp your feet.
X X X X X
Stomp stomp stomp your feet.
X X X X X
Stomp stomp stomp your feet.
X X X X X
Stomp your feet with me.
X X X X X

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
6, 7, 8, 9, 10

7. Clean up – even though you do the cleanup at this age, sing this song while picking up the toys and later your baby will be able to follow your steps.

Clean up, clean up.
Everybody, let’s clean up.
Clean up, clean up.
Put your things away.

You can replace “things” with the toys that you are putting away, to teach your baby new words.

8. The Bath Song - to teach body parts and make bath time more fun

Can you wash your hair?
I can wash my hair.
Can you wash your feet?
I can wash my feet.
Can you wash your face?
I can wash my face.
Can you wash your knees?
I can wash my knees.

I can wash my hair.
I can wash my feet.
I can wash my face.
I can wash my knees.
This is the way we take a bath.

You can sing a slightly different version:

“Can we wash your hair?/ We can wash your hair” or “Can mum/dad wash your hair?/|Mum/Dad can wash your hair”

9. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head. Shoulders. Knees. Toes.
Head. Shoulders. Knees. Toes.
Eyes. Ears. Mouth. Nose.
Head. Shoulders. Knees. Toes.

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes.
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes.
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose.
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes.

10. The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
Then the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Okay…put your fingers together.
Let’s do The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
Then the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

A little faster now.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
Then the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Now let’s try it slow, with a low voice.
And a big, big spider.

The big, big spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
Then the big, big spider went up the spout again.

11. My Teddy Bear – sing this with your baby’s favourite soft toy

My teddy bear has two eyes, two eyes, two eyes.
My teddy bear has two eyes. I love my teddy bear.

My teddy bear has one nose, one nose, one nose.
My teddy bear has one nose. I love my teddy bear.

My teddy bear has two ears, two ears, two ears.
My teddy bear has two ears. I love my teddy bear.

My teddy bear has two arms, two arms, two arms.
My teddy bear has two arms. I love my teddy bear.

My teddy bear has two legs, two legs, two legs.
My teddy bear has two legs. I love my teddy bear.

My teddy bear has four paws, four paws, four paws.
My teddy bear has four paws. I love my teddy bear.

12. I See Something Blue – when playing with your child, hand her toys and say the colour by singing about it

Blue!
I see something blue.
Blue!
I see something blue.
Blue, blue, blue, blue…
I see something blue.
Find something blue!

Yellow!
I see something yellow.
Yellow!
I see something yellow.
Yellow, yellow…
I see something yellow.
Find something yellow!



13. If You’re Happy

If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands.
If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands.
If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands, clap your hands.
If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands.

If you’re angry angry angry, stomp your feet.
If you’re angry angry angry, stomp your feet.
If you’re angry angry angry, stomp your feet, stomp your feet.
If you’re angry angry angry, stomp your feet.

If you’re scared scared scared, say, “Oh no!”
If you’re scared scared scared, say, “Oh no!”
If you’re scared scared scared, say, “Oh no!” Say, “Oh no!”
If you’re scared scared scared, say, “Oh no!”

If you’re sleepy sleepy sleepy, take a nap.
If you’re sleepy sleepy sleepy, take a nap.
If you’re sleepy sleepy sleepy, take a nap, take a nap.
If you’re sleepy sleepy sleepy, take a nap.

If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands.
If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands.
If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands, clap your hands.
If you’re happy happy happy, clap your hands.

14. Invent your own songs with very easy lyrics and musical instruments. It will help develop your baby’s memory and vocabulary and it will make routines and transitions easier for both of you.

If you have any other fun ideas, please share them in the comments section. :)