Thursday, August 1, 2019

Building Water Confidence in Toddlers Through Bath Play!

Around the time my oldest turned 3 he suddenly became afraid of water. He went from 0 to 100 real quick. And with no explanation. He used to love all things water. He would spend hours in the bath if we let him, loved splash pads and shower time with mama. Then all of a sudden he hated water. I'm talking if a single drop of water touched his skin or clothes he would go into full on meltdown mode.  It was as if a switch flipped over night!

So when a local swim school reached out about collaborating on an article about building water confidence through bath play I just had to jump on it! I sat down with Kristin, owner of Farber Swim School in Portland, OR. If you are local and haven't heard of Farber Swim School I would highly recommend it! They have a really great open swim for little ones that allows parents to get in the pool with their kiddos which as you can imagine is a big deal given our current relationship with water! Bonus: the water is nice and warm (90degrees)! 👌

Below are some tips for building water confidence (and safety!) at home!

Ears all in OR all out:
Apparently it is a common misconception that covering a kids ears with water can lead to ear infection. As long as they are fully submerged they will be fine (it's the half in/half out that's the culprit)! Keep in mind they did spend 9 months in water before they were born 😜

Flutter kicks: 
This is an important one to practice because it is an essential skill needed for swimming. Little ones can practice this in bath or even in a kiddie pool! Making it fun and engaging is key. We played Making Waves! We practiced using our flutter kicks to make waves for our boats!

Blowing bubbles:
Being able to blow bubbles into water is one of the first skills taught in traditional swim classes. However if your little one is like mine they don't understand the difference between blow, spit and drink. I won't tell you which child I'm talking about, that would be embarrassing 🤪Ease into this skill with straws! What kid doesn't love blowing bubbles into their drinks, cereal, soup, spit...!? Introduce blowing bubbles in standing water (like bath!)

We turned this into a fun game as well! Duck Races I gave both boys a straw and a rubber ducky and they had to blow bubbles to race their ducks across the tub! The trick was not to drink the water while we played...Still working on this one!

Reaching for toys under water:
This one may seem silly or unimportant but reaching for toys under water is an important skill for little ones to practice as well. It helps with depth perception and just confidence in the water. Making water play fun is the first step to water confidence!

We haven't practiced this one yet but Kristin mentioned getting your little ones used to goggles early would also be helpful! The 2 brands Farber Swim recommends are Speedo Skoogles and Swimple TYR. They're relatively inexpensive and have cute kid friendly prints!

Pouring water over head:
We're still building to this one!

Other ideas to help make water play fun and engaging:

Glow baths: 
Throw glow sticks in the bath, turn out the lights and have fun! Even our new kitty got in on this one 🤣

Rainbow baths:
This is a favorite of ours! Pick a different color each night. Dye the bath water (we use these!) and add matching colored items from around the house! Easy, educational and fun! Not to mention pretty!

Popsicle baths:
Do you see a pattern here!? We usually do this on sick days (or really really hot days!) We take our popsicles into the bath! It's a great way to shake up bath time AND makes for easy clean up!

Water beads:
Add some water beads to the tub and it's a whole new game! They're also perfectly safe to go down the drain! 👌
Tip: If you haven't used bath beads before they take about 24hrs to expand in size so soak ahead of time!

Wash away games:
If you've been following us for awhile we love wash away games! All you do is draw a picture, letter, number, shape, etc and let your little one erase it! You can erase with washcloths, pouring water, squirt guns, you name it! The possibilities are endless! We do a lot of different adaptations to these kinds of activities and bath is a perfect place for it!

Letter Squirt:
I'm sure by now you've figured out that foam letters stick to the sides of the bath tub/wall so why not put that to good use!? We took squirt guns into bath and practiced squirting off the letters!

What are you favorite bath play activities!?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

My Favorite Apps for Toddlers

One of the big questions I get asked a lot about is screen time! Yes, my kids do get screen time.  Screen time in our house comes in 2 forms: TV and tablet (we call it game time). Each morning our boys each get to pick a show to watch while we all wake up. The other time my kiddos get screen time is during Avery's nap. Cohen is allowed to play his game for an hour. I know, I know. That's a long time but hear me out:

1. I know my kid best. And I know that for him, game time is used productively and helps him to calm his body and center himself
2. It is the only time he gets to play anything without brother wanting to take everything he has 

With all things, I believe in moderation and screen time is no exception. And we are lucky that we live in a time where so many educational apps are available for our little ones so I don't feel as bad letting him play as much!

Below is a list of some of our favorite apps for game time. As always, I would recommend downloading and trying them yourself first before introducing to your kiddos! This is what I always do! The BIGGEST issue I have/advice is if you like the free version - spend the $2 for the paid version! The only reason I say this is because the free versions play commercials and they are NOT always kid friendly. The paid apps have no commercials! 

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Balloon Pop!: 
This is a very basic one and is one of Avery’s favorites (he's 18mos)! There are balloons you pop to practice colors and letters. Super simple, not much substance but a good beginner game to get your little one used to operating a game.

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Toddler Games for 2 year olds: 
This is another popping game but is a little more substantial. You pick the skill to focus on and then it increases in difficulty asking them to tap that letter/shape/color/etc. 

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ABC Mouse: 
I 100% recommend this one hands down. I used this in the classroom too and loved it. It does cost $10/mo but you get a free trial to test it out! My favorite is that you can customize the skills and lessons to your kiddo and you can use the app on your phone to track their progress as they go!

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ABC Kids: 
This one has pros and cons! Pro: It’s really good for pre-writing! That's the main reason I like it! They help your little one practice tracing the letters. It also has lots of other letter practice. Con: it doesn’t have the letter sounds correct. For example for B they say “buh” which is linguistically not correct. Most apps/teachers make this mistake too (putting an /uh/ at the end of letter sounds which is confusing). I didn't let Cohen start playing this one until he had mastered his letter sounds AND was old enough to understand that these sounds weren't correct.

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Alphabet Aquarium: 
I like this one because each letter has several activities to practice the name and sound. Your little one starts by building the letter, building an animal that starts with that letter, beginning sound picture puzzles. There's a lot of fine motor and repetition of each letter which is great!

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This is another subscription but also has a free trial and it is BOOKS. So. Many. Books! Audio books, read to me books, it’s amazing! Definitely worth a trial!

Just for fun:

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Tap Color: 
This is a color by number app - Cohen is obsessed! They have kid versions too but he likes the adult challenge! While I put this app in my "just for fun" list it does work on color recognition, number recognition and fine motor skills (just not explicitly).

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Car Wash: 
Exactly what the name is, the kids wash cars. Cohen loooooves this one.  ðŸ˜‚

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Pipe Art: 
This one is really challenging but really good for spatial awareness! It starts easy and gets harder. The goal is to make each pipe so that it fits within the box and doesn't overlap with another pipe. It's a lot harder than it looks! 

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This is probably the funniest one that Cohen is into! There’s a little game you play to earn stars and then you use the stars to remodel a house ðŸ˜‚

There you have it! Our favorites! What are some of your little one's favorite apps? I'm always on the look out for new and exciting educational (and fun) apps!