Make Your Own Bird Feeder

birdHere’s a craft that allows you to combine three wonderful things:

1) Young children

2) Fine motor skill development

3) Minimal mess

Don’t believe it is possible to do all three at once? Read on, and find out how you and your child can make a simple bird feeder! Continue reading

2013 Missouri Building Blocks: Let’s Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy

photo of the book coverJan Thomas’ books are known for their humor, and “Let’s Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy” doesn’t disappoint. Turning a typical bedtime routine on its head, the parent – played by the brave cowboy – continues to halt the bedtime process. Cowboy’s wild imagination turns flowers into spiders and sticks into snakes. Luckily the cows and a not-so-scary wolf alleviate his fears, and he happily croons everyone to sleep.

Kids love guessing what inanimate object is scaring Cowboy. Their enthusiastic and imaginative guessing reminds me of a simple game I made up as a child. I called it… “The Peek Game.”

filegameHow do you play this marvelous game, you ask?

  • Gather a file folder, scissors and some interesting images from magazines or calendars.
  • Cut several flaps in the front your file folder. Larger flaps are perfect for young ones. Tiny flaps make the game more challenging.
  • Hide an image inside the folder.
  • Let one player pick a flap to open.
  • Given this peek, what could the image be?
  • Continue opening windows and guessing until you guess correctly.
  • Swap places and let the other player pick an image.

Looking for more fun?  In the vein of Throwback Thursday, take a peek at our past blogs for another popular guessing game and my favorite cowpoke lullaby (actions included).

Play “Make Me Laugh, Piggie!”

picture of Elephant and Piggie dancingTurn a frown upside down with author Mo Willems’ humor.

No supplies are needed for this two-person game. Simply decide who gets to be the famous elephant Gerald and who is his best pal Piggie. On the starting signal, Piggie faces Gerald and has one minute to make him laugh. Gerald must keep his “serious” face and not smile or laugh at all. Piggie may use her hands and facial expressions to make Gerald  laugh, and she is only allowed to say one thing: “Oink, oink.” Piggie is not permitted to make any other noises or touch Gerald, or Gerald is the automatic winner. If Gerald laughs before the minute is up, Piggie wins. If not, Gerald wins. Then switch roles and do it again.

Find more fun Piggie and Gerald activities on Mo Willems’ site, and checkout Mo’s books at the library!

Lend & Learn Toy Libraries are Open Again!

Lend and Learn

Your wait is over! Lend & Learn Toy Library locations have been closed for the summer months and reopened their doors August 27th.

All Boone County parents with children ages birth to three years are invited to come explore educational toys, visit with the on-site Early Childhood Specialist, and browse resource materials on topics from learning activities to toilet training.

Families can enjoy a large, safe, inviting space to play with their children and visit with others. There’s an infant-toddler area that provides a protected play space for the youngest children and their parents. You can even check out  developmentally appropriate toys for your children for free. Continue reading

The Power of Play

My grandadMy grandfather was magical and a big kid at heart. He wasn’t like other granddads. He opened all of his cereal boxes and canned goods from the bottom. Why? So they would appear unopened as they stocked the shelves of my pretend grocery store. We spent hours planning menus—strawberry soup anyone? I loved to look at store circulars, sort coupons and count out fake money. My brother and I would reverently introduce our best friends to our grocery store and take turns playing shop-keeper, harried mother and fussy baby.

As an adult, I recognize the educational value in all that dramatic play. We were “reading” the ads, using kid writing to make grocery lists, counting, learning about money, expressing ourselves, sharing, negotiating and solving problems. As a child, I was thrilled to be in a special world that was lovingly made for me. My grocery store beat any of those store-bought kits hands down!

Would you like to create a fun, educational and inexpensive play area for your children? Continue reading