Wednesday, September 28, 2011

De-cluttering the play room

Having 2 boys about three years apart makes toy storage and organization a challenge. Having 2 boys that have very different interests makes it nearly impossible!
Here are some tips for trying to organize/de-clutter your play space.
1. Don’t do it with your children.
Seriously, are you really going to get anything actually thrown out or donated if you enlist there help. Suddenly, the toy that has not been played with for 2 years will become something they can’t part with. DON’T DO IT! Wait till there at school or napping and try to do it then. You’ll get so much more accomplished!
2. Set a timer!
I am a big proponent of using a timer. Set it for 15 minutes and then get to work. When the timer goes off,  you can stop and have a break. You are much more likely to begin a task it you know you don’t have to do it all day. But, as Flylady says, you can do anything for 15 minutes.
3. Have 3 bins, okay maybe 4,  ready to go.
You need to have your materials with you, so you don’t inadvertently mess up your whole house while trying to complete this project. You will need a trash bag, a box for donations, and a box for items that you want to sell. I also like to have a box for things that belong somewhere else (more about that on number 4). This way you don’t end up with a tidied playroom, and piles of stuff everywhere else!
4. Don’t get sidetracked.
If you have to leave the playroom, you are going to find something else that needs doing. And if you are anything like me, you will end up completely forgetting what you are supposed to be working on. So instead, have a box for things that belong in another place (like your son’s underwear that you find in the car bin…don’t ask…just put it in the bin, and when your timer goes off, you can take these items and put them away).
5. If it is broke, nobody wants it.
Seriously, GoodWill does not want a toy that no longer works or doesn’t have all the pieces. Throw it out, don’t waste their time! And don’t keep things that don’t have the pieces, you can not play checkers without the red pieces!
6. Playrooms need storage!
You can’t store stuff and keep it organized without storage (think about it, that is why we have cabinets in the kitchen). We bought ours from Target, and we love it!
7. Sort like things together.
This is probably a given, but it is important. Put all things that are alike together. Animals, cars, trains. Sort them and put them in a bin, or a box or a shelf, together. Farm sets, or matchbox car sets should be stored together, so when the kids want to play with it, all the pieces are right there. If they pieces are lost or broken refer to number 5 :)
8.Label Label Label
The kids are never going to find something, or keep the room semi-straight if they don’t know where things go. So you have to label. Use pictures, or words or both…this is a must do! So do it!
9.Hide it
Now that you think you know what you are going to donate, or sell. Put those items in your garage or attic for at least a month. If the kids never mention an item go ahead and get rid of it. If you have inadvertently  gotten rid of a favorite toy, you can pull it out and no harm has been done!
10. Spend 5 minutes a day keeping it up.
Here is a trick find a cool song (we like “Who let the dogs out”) and play it. Then have the kids help tidy until the song is over. You will probably do most of the work, but at least your trying to get them involved.

Now that it is all organized, sit back and enjoy. Aren't you glad you started this project!?!?!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do-a-Dot, body theme printables

We are working on a “all about me” theme. So I made some Do-a-dot marker pages to go with it.
With these pages the outline is done in circles, and the kids can fill them in with the dot markers. Then the kids can color the insides, if they so choose.
Frugal Tip:
Did you know many dollar stores carry bingo markers in a variety of colors, that work just like the Do-A-Dot Marker? You need to check them out!
Here are the 3 pages. You can download them here for FREE!
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I’d love to hear about it if you decide to download!

Outside Adventures

As many of you know, I have struggled to get my boys to play outside. If we go to the park, or go ride scooters it is a different story, though. They just aren’t big on free play in our backyard.
Coming up on September 24th, 2011 is the Worldwide Day of Play to turn off the TV and play outside. So take the Clorox2® Play 2Day pledge to play outside! We definitely are! I bet we’ll chose some of the following activities to do on Saturday!
Some of the things my kids love to do outside, include going to our local park.
Alligator went through a phase of loving to go up and down the stairs.
And Monkey loves surfing on the slide.
Both boys love swinging! Monkey is way too big for the baby swing, but that doesn’t stop him.
Playing with sidewalk chalk. There are so many educational or just fun games to play with the addition of chalk.
Climbing trees. (I love this picture)
And even taking our indoor toys, outside! Building the worlds longest train track.
The outdoor flat surface was perfect for the marble tower!
We spend a lot of our outdoor time in the pool, when the weather is warm!
Or just sitting on the edge, and splashing!
Or just hanging around by the pool. I guess it is a kid magnet.
And who knew a water hose could be this much fun?
The sandbox is also a lot of fun.
So is our little swing set!
Both boys love going on a nature hike.
Monkey loves measuring bridges with sticks.

Feeding ducks is another fun outdoor activity!
Finding all sorts of pond creatures is fun too.
There really is lots to do outdoors. The kids will enjoy it so much more if you play with them.  So plan your day, and get active! Go for a hike, then have a picnic, hit a park, then ride bikes. Maybe have a bar-b-que while you throw the ball around, then enjoy looking at the stars as you lie on a blanket.
Who needs TV… the opportunities outside are endless.
So go on, visit, and take the challenge.
Please leave a comment if you decide to take the pledge, I would love to hear what your plans are for the day. Come back next week, to see how are day went!
“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox2® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Play dates with PLAY-DOH

Has this ever happened to you? Your kids have friends over, and they are all playing well, and then suddenly, they are buck-wild? They need something to do, besides destroying your house! Well…
PLAY-DOH has a very cool website that I just learned about. You can check it out here. I am always amazed at how many wonderful and informative websites there are out there, to help moms get great ideas. You and your children will enjoy virtually endless hours of imaginative play with fun and engaging PLAY-DOH Play-Date ideas.
At the above website,  you’ll find play-date ideas. Scroll down to the blue section to pick a theme. (This would be great for those of you that home school with themes, or just picking something that goes with your child’s interest.) Each theme includes step-by-step instructions to create PLAY-DOH Fresh Ideas, printable crafts, and healthy snacks to help you host the perfect PLAY-DOH Play-Date!
We chose the Pizza Shop activities to try. Some of the other themes included: Back to School, Beach Party, and Picnic.
I printed off the instructions for making the Pizza Peel, and the Pizza Menu, it is found in the red section under crafts.
These were a great addition to our pretend play. It gave Monkey some ideas of what to make, and the Pizza Peel, made it fun to deliver the pizza. Next time I am going to make the pizza box, because that seems so cool! The craft ideas are so easy, and the site includes the free printables.
Here is Monkey Checking out the menu.
He decided to make the pizza first.
Here he is loading up the pizza dough with sauce.
Here he is cutting up some cheese to go on the top.
The website has step by step directions for making each thing. In the red section, click on fresh ideas, and you can pick which item you would like to make.
Monkey used the directions to figure out how make the olives. He made one super big one.
Here it is already for delivery.
Next he wanted to make the gellato from the menu (he called it yogurt :)
Alligator joined in on the fun to. He made cookies. Chocolate chip, and strawberry chip.
The website even has snack ideas.
We will definitely be trying that out!
You could easily laminate the menu, and use it over and over. The craft ideas, would be great to put in a theme box, so the kids can play with them any time.
Disclosure: This post is part of a SocialMoms product evaluation, for which I’ve been selected. I’ve been compensated for my time with 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SocialMoms or Play-Doh.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Circle Time set up

I finally settled on doing Mother Goose Time again this year. I might only do every other month, we’ll just have to see how it goes.
I got the circle time area set up. I am using the corner of our playroom for this.
The picture above shows the whole corner.
This is a close up of out weather, shape, alphabet and monthly poster set up. You can also see the alphabet strip at the bottom.
We also have a calendar, and the daily poster hanging as well as our dress up doll (that you dress for the weather). I offer Alligator a choice of shirts for him daily.
We have really enjoyed playing the CDs that comes with the kits. Here are the boys dancing (yes, Monkey has a gun…but at least he is dancing!) IMG_5820 IMG_5821

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Apple Tree Play-Doh mat

I finally got a chance to get pictures of Alligator playing with our Apple Tree Play-Doh mat. You can find my post about the mat here. (You can download the mat for free!)
Alligator really doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, so he really hasn’t played with play-doh much. I guess it is just one of those sensory things, since it doesn’t actually make your hands messy, but it does have a unique texture.
So I sat right next to him and we worked with the play-doh.
I eventually got him to pinch off some play-doh to make apples on our tree.
This is a great fine motor/pincher grasp activity!
This post has been shared at Tot School. Come on and check it out!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Body themed snack

We are working on a Mother Goose Time unit of “My Amazing Body”
One of today’s activities was a recipe for a snack.
My oldest son was so excited.
We used bread, cheez-its, raisins, Ritz crackers and peanut butter.
The bread was the body, and we cut up a slice to use as arms and legs. We used peanut butter as our glue.
The head was a cracker. And the hands and feet were cheez-its. My husband and I used raisins for the faces. Monkey isn’t a big fan of raisins so he broke up the cheez-its and used those.

IMG_5830    IMG_5831 IMG_5832
Not only did they turn out cute…they were yummy too!
Monkey’s thoughts: “We should make these for every snack!”