A little bleach and water = new!

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Today’s find on the side of the road!  will turn this into new, plastics are very durable (and saved me @ $100). Different types of “houses” are a very important part of imaginative play. Children can use them with dolls, Shopkins, Fisher Price people, Star Wars figures, or other. Houses add a component to play that allows children to pretend and create scenarios they experience every day (going to school, the doctors, and even just being at home). Having different house options changes the dynamic each time when they are alternated in and out. I always pick these up on the side of the road when I see them. And, when my children outgrow them or our collection of houses get too large, I donate them. I love seeing my girls faces of excitement when a “new” house waits for them as they get off the bus! Hours of fun to come!

Different options = exploration!

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A room with different options provides children the opportunity to explore and find their interests! However, even if a child is drawn to a preference like dolls, it doesn’t mean they will always play with those toys. Nor should you get rid of toys they don’t play with frequently. Just put them away. When toys are reintroduced, weeks or even months later, every time they are taken out they feel like new! This is called “rotating the toys”. My son didn’t play with the construction toys for weeks but this week he used them often.
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Sensory tables are one of the best investments!

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Sensory tables are one of the best investments you will ever make (when used properly)! I had two, one for when they were really small $99 and another when my oldest turned 4, $138. Many refer to these as water tables, but they are truly sensory tables and with the right ideas you will have hours and hours of FUN and learning (from sand, to snow, to pasta, to water, to other!) Red water table = http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1539&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

All Toys are NOT created equal!

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All Toys are NOT created equal! Open ended toys like manipulatives provide the greatest opportunity for learning. Manipulatives are things that can be “manipulated”, like legos, blocks, magnets. One of my favorites, that my children still use after 9 years, is “Tall Stackers Pegs Building Sets”. They have built so many variations of structures I couldn’t possibly count! ***Make sure to like our page or follow the blog to receive constant tips and ideas for learning at home

My water table was one of the best $100 investments!

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Water play is such a wonderful sensory and stimulating activity for any age! Children love the water, any kind; rain, baths, sprinklers, lakes, oceans, snow, puddles. It is part of our world and part of us. My water table was one of the best $100 investments I ever made. I started with the small blue one in the link below, then transitioned to the larger when my oldest turned 4. At 9, 7, and 6 they still find different ways to play with it. We use measuring cups, bottles, bowls, and any other type of plastics we can find. Plastic can go a long way! They love anything that can pour or shoot water (like the medicine dispensers from CVS). Often they put the water table on the ground, fill it, sit in it, dump to make a stream to lay in, pretend it’s a pool or boat, and more. We also mix up the activities with bubbles, food coloring, utensils, buckets, and water guns. Water tables are worth every penny!! Just set it up in the driveway full of plastics. A hose and clean recyclables host hours of fun.

The two water tables I purchased:

http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1540&keyword=water%20table&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1539&keyword=red%20water%20table&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

Children’s books are not just for reading…

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We often forget the library is one of the greatest places to explore and learn for a child. A library is full of adventures! Each story contains a new one. Even before a child reads this is important. Children’s imaginations soar as they look at the beautiful colors and artistic creations on each page of a book. Mine often create and make up their own stories. This is the basis of reading and language. I never pushed or focused on the words until developmentally reading became important. My children love to go, and have the same excitement as going to the toy store, every time. For the last 8 years (yes, as soon as my oldest turned 1) I’ve tried to take my children once a week. We leave with a bag full of books. Each one of my children flipped through the pages and immersed themselves in the images before they could read. Reading isn’t the only purpose of a story, or the story itself. Now my 9 year old leaves with a stack of her own Chapter books, and reads at least an hour every night before bed. It is one of my greatest successes as a mother. Every night I read one story to each child (of course we miss nights, and now this time has become “chat” time with my oldest instead) but it has become a transition to dreamland which studies are finding aid in proper sleep and development… The library is a place of wonder and mystery, held in the page of every book. Give that gift to your children. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass