Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Step-by-step: Folding fabric for tissue box

If you do make a tissue box toy for your children, and would like the pieces of fabric to be folded together so that only one comes out at a time, yet leaves the next piece sticking out of the top (just like real tissues), then I hope these instructions help!

Start with one piece of fabric laying flat, doesn't matter which way the print faces.

Lay another piece halfway covering the first.

Fold the exposed half of the first piece over the second piece.

Cover the second piece of fabric halfway with a third piece.

Fold the exposed part of the second piece over the third piece.

Continue with another piece.

Fold again, and repeat with as many pieces as you can fit into a tissue box!

Fostering a Love of Reading

As a former kindergarten teacher, I know all about the importance of literacy!  And as a book lover myself, reading is something I want my twins to love too.  It's a lovely image, that of a parent cuddling a child and reading a book together.  But realistically, as a mother of wiggly twins, that scenario hardly ever happens for me.  Before the boys could roll over, I would lay them both on the bed or floor on their backs, and lay next to them, holding the book over their heads for them to see.  I would do this after every daytime feeding.  Once they could sit up (or once they kept rolling over and crawling away during stories), I switched to reading to them while in their high chairs, making it part of meal time.  Here's the basket of books I keep by the table, along with another basket of remote controls and other baby contraband!

Now they're 15 months old, and I still read to them mainly while they're in their high chairs.  Making reading part of the routine makes sure that it happens.  My goal is to read them one picture book every time they eat a meal or snack, and at bedtime my husband helps to hold them for the bedtime story.  This means they're read at least 6 books a day!  Sometimes more, if during playtime one of them brings me a book on their own.    Incorporating books so often throughout the day helps even babies and young toddlers learn the basics of how to soak in the illustrations, turn pages, and how to look at a book right-side up... though not always...

As you can see, we've got a little shelf with board books on it in the twins' bedroom, which they can look at any time we're up there.  Below is the basket I keep on the living room floor, which is also accessible at any time.  Any book that has paper pages that I don't want torn, I keep out of reach.  I try to rotate all the books around from time to time.  

Obviously, early exposure to "how books work" is great for a child's educational success, but it's also become a form of entertainment in our house!  The picture below was not posed!  By seeing parents handle books so often, and by putting books all around the house, it show their importance and value to the child, and they develop their own independent interest in them.  And mommy gets a two minute break....oh, I mean, and mommy has fostered a love of reading in her children ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Toys

We were fortunate to receive many, many toys and baby entertainment items as gifts or hand-me-downs.

However, no matter how you come by things for your children, whether you spend the money or someone else does, it's inevitable that some days all your kids want to play with is the remote control, the pots and pans, and the coasters sitting on the coffee table.  I think my boys knew at an early age which items were "toys" and which items were "grown-up things" that mommy and daddy would use, and thus held more fascination.  So I try to let them play with as many "grown-up things" as I can around the house, or I try to recycle household items into toys.  One of my absolute favorite sites for inspiration is  The Imagination Tree.  I got the following ideas for homemade toys from this very creative mother of three.

First I made a "discovery bottle" for the twins, following her recipe.  I would recommend using a bottle with a very tight, sturdy cap, and adding tape around it, as I did, since you definitely don't want children to be able to open the cap and eat the contents.

Inspired by this idea in general, I made two more types of bottles for the boys.  One is simply rice poured into a washed out juice bottle.  The others are made with washed out parmesan cheese shakers, filled with washed caps from beverages and baby food that I saved.  For those I also taped the lids shut.

Tons of similar ideas can be found here.  Babies and toddlers just love things that shake and rattle, and these fit the bill!

One more thing I made for the boys is a tissue-box toy.  When I first introduced it, they didn't understand and had no interest in it.  A few months later I noticed that every time they got their hands on a wipes box, they would instinctively begin to pull out wipe after wipe with glee!  So I pulled out the tissue-box with fabric squares again, and now it's a hit.  The Imagination Tree calls it a material box.

Thanks to my wonderful mother who obtained and cut many squares of tissue-box-sized fabric, each in a different print!  If you'd like a step-by-step for folding the fabric, go here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Entertaining Baby Twins

In the first few months, it seems more about sleeping (or trying to), eating, and diapers.  Just keep ‘em alive.  But as the months roll by in your twins’ lives, it can be a challenge to keep them entertained and busy all day.  Taking two babies out at once can be daunting and tiring, so more time is spent at home by default.  Here are some of the things we did with our babies:

Activities By Month:

1 – 2 Months:

o   Bouncy seats:  Watching people move around the room or look at the hanging toys (eventually interacting with the toys)
o    Back and tummy time in activity mat
o   Holding them to sing, talk, or read to them
o   Walks in the stroller outside (they usually fell asleep quickly though)
o   Swing

3 – 5 Months:

o   All of the above, plus:
o   Exersaucer
o   Jumperoo
o   Doorway jumpers/swings

6 – 8 Months:

o   Tummy Time on the floor with toys, especially ones that light up and play music, or that can be easily chewed.
o   Floor Time:  time playing with toys on the floor either on their tummies, or rolling around or on backs.
o   Playing with toys, magazines and junk mail in their high chairs while I made them food or cleaned up.
o   On occasion, when I really needed to get something done for a few minutes, or they were sick and lacked energy, I would let them watch Sesame Street, Baby Einstein, or similar programs/DVDs while in their high chairs.
o  Practice sitting up on the carpet or in a pack-n-play, using pillows or an adult for support.

9-12 Months:

o   -Ride-on toys indoors
o    Crawl, cruise, or walk around exploring
o   Use activity tables
o   Begin building attempts with blocks

What are some of the things you did with your babies at home?