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I cannot believe it’s already time for Christmas shopping! With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things for boys & girls ages 1-3 years old. These are toys we have used and loved that are perfect Christmas gifts for your toddler. Check out the full list on Amazon here. If you’ve got an older kiddo, check out my space-themed Christmas gift guide here.
I have this as #1 on this list because this is the BEST gift for a toddler. Not all water tables are created equal – we’ve experienced that the hard way. We purchased this for Justus’s 1 year birthday after A LOT of research and an earlier “fail.” This water table is endless fun and, unlike other water tables, it is sturdy and has lots of options to keep everyone entertained. Our 16-month-old AND 4-year-old enjoy this table a lot!
And just like that, Easter is upon us! Before having kids, I never thought I’d be into doing things like Easter crafts and Easter egg hunts. As a non-parent, I felt like those things took away from the power of the Cross and Resurrection. But now that I’m actually a mom, I can’t help it – we’re doing all the non-religious Easter activities! However, I still feel very strongly about not letting those things take place of what “Resurrection Sunday” is really about: Jesus.
My primary mission in being a mom is to teach my children about Jesus – whether it’s Christmas, Easter or the middle of June. We talk about Jesus all of the time, but Easter is a particularly special time to emphasize what Jesus has done for us.
So today we did a Jesus-centered Easter craft that was super simple and fun, and we also used that time to talk about God’s sacrifice of His Son and how much He loves us.
With most of us on COVID lockdown these days, I thought it would be a good time to put out some sensory play ideas that you could utilize with your baby and/or toddler! Here’s some of our favorites. If you use any of these, make sure to tag us and let me know how it goes: @themommyofmayhem.
A word about activities with my 3 year old: they NEVER go the way I want them to. And I mean NEVER. And that’s alright. I think it’s all part of what God is teaching me through motherhood: that it’s OK to not be in control, that things will not go as planned and it will be alright. And sometimes, it’ll be even BETTER than I anticipated. Motherhood is messy, and at times turbulent, but I’m grateful for all the lessons God’s teaching me along the way.
1. The Smelling Game
This is one of my favorites, especially while cooking. I’ll take out different spices or ingredients and let the kids smell them (and, if they’re safe to eat, touch them). Our favorites are cinnamon, lemon, ginger, and coffee beans. When Finn was a baby, I had a spinning spice rack and we would put it on the floor and he loved to spin it around and shake the spice bottles. I would open up different spices and let him smell them. Now that Finn is older, we’ll play the “smelling game” where I blindfold him and he has to guess what ingredients I have based on the smell! He loves it!
2. Water beads
Water beads are so fun! They’re colorful and squishy, and it’s fun to watch them expand. I would recommend some caution with them, though, because they’re easy for little ones to ingest AND they can be messy. We only play with water beads on the porch these days. For Justus, I’ll put the water beads in a little plastic ziplock bag and tape it to the high chair tray so he can squish them around.
3. Painting (in a bag!)
Of course, you could just let your kids play with finger paint, but that’s really messy…
Right now, Finn LOVES doing “science experiments.” We received a super cool science kit from my mom (the chemist) for Christmas, and it has been the gift that keeps on giving. (And also the gift that keeps facilitating messes…)
Lately, it’s felt like our afternoons stretch on forever before it’s time to prep for dinner, so we’ve been doing science experiments to pass the time. I prep the activities at the end of nap time and then he has something to look forward to once he wakes up!
I’ve searched Pinterest for all sorts of science experiments, but it seems like I never have quite the right supplies or ingredients. These are the ones we’ve done that you should be able to do with supplies you have at home right now!