Friday, 29 March 2013

6 Suggestions to Help Develop your Child's Motor Skills

As a parent, 'motor skills' are mentioned from a very early stage; they are mentioned but no-one tells you what they are! Panic, is my baby going to walk, talk, get through school, as I do not know what these skills are? Help is on hand. Besides defining what the skills are, I have listed some (of the many) ways that you can help develop your child's skills.

Motor Skills
Every time your baby uses their muscles to move, they are using their motor skills. When your baby is newborn they have no control of their movements but as they grow, they develop their motor skills, starting at the top of the body and moving down.

Fine Motor Skills
These are the smaller movements your child makes. When your baby moves their lips, tongue, toes wrist, hands, fingers etc, they are utilising their fine motor skills. Every time they eat or 'gum' an object, wriggle their toes or handle a toy, they are using the skills.

Gross Motor Skills
Larger movements made by your baby's arms, legs etc use their gross motor skills. As your baby develops, so does their control of these skills and their ability to use them; sitting up, crawling, walking, lifting etc.

How to Help
Allowing your toddler / child to feed or drink themselves, aids hand-mouth coordination and to develop you child's oral motor skills. I have concentrated on activities that can help younger children's development, but on some of the websites there are guides for older children.
  • Scissors
  • Allowing your child to practise cutting paper and card is a very beneficial tool for them. As your child grows, there are cutting exercises that they can complete to develop their skills further.
    You will need to show your child how to hold the scissors correctly. Their hand should be tilted to the side with their palms facing each other; thumbs should be on top. Their thumbs should be placed in the smaller opening and fingers in the larger opening. Start by getting them to try and cut and to get used to opening and closing the blades. Once they have established the skill, you can move onto the cutting exercises above.
  • Handy-bag Hunt
  • Tactile Perception is an important tool for your child. Their fine motor skills are enhanced by feeling the objects in the bag whilst developing their touch-to-brain communication. OT Mom Learning Activities has some great ideas for handy-bag hunts.
  • Threading
  • I bought a jar of beads and laces, which my children use to make necklaces. Threading the beads develops not only their fine motor skills but also their hand-eye coordination, which is invaluable. You can also use lacing cards, as the benefits are equal to beads.
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Finger painting is a great way to get your child to understand their hand's movements and hand coordination as they coat with paint and then draw. 
    Using crayons is a simple way of developing their fine motor skills. You will need to teach them how to hold the crayon correctly, as all young children start with a fist grip. Initially, show them how to hold it between their thumb and forefinger.
  • Toys
  • There are many toys that will aid development of their motor skills. Toddlers and young children should be offered soft books, dressing up clothes (especially with buttons) or dolls and clothes, sorting and stacking toys as they also aid balance, puzzles (particularly with pegs on top for them to pinch hold of) and balls (to grasp and hold).

There are countless other activities that can aid your child's motor skills development. Perhaps I shall do another feature soon, for slightly older children!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

3 Activities to Teach Colours to Your Children

When I first started teaching my children colours, each one was blue! Thankfully, they are better at recognising colours now but we often still have mistakes and guesses.

This week I concentrated on teaching them colours and tailored our play towards this topic. Besides using every opportunity to ask "what colour is this?" or "can you find something ...?"; we played the 3 exercises below. There has been a significant improvement this week but (with one of my twins) there is still room for development; so the teachings must continue.

Minky Monkey Moo Learn Colours Toy RainbowMinky Monkey Moo Learn Colours Toy Rainbow

To start the week on a colourful note, we made a toy rainbow! I asked them what colours they thought made up a rainbow and arch by arch, we built a colour coded collection of toys. They really enjoyed hunting out the toys and were excited to add them to the growing pile.

Minky Monkey Moo Learn Colours Sticky Rainbow 1Minky Monkey Moo Learn Colour Sticky Rainbow

Continuing with rainbows, we used small scrunched up pieces of tissue paper and glue to make a lovely piece of art! I coloured in the arches on their pictures, so that they knew which colour to find and stick; you could get them to colour in each line but mine still cover the whole page with just one or two scribbles! We discussed the colours that they had found and I also challenged them to find a colour and to stick it in the right place. We had a fabulous time getting all sticky!

Minky Monkey Moo Learn Colours Hunt 1
The third exercise involved braving the cold weather but they love any excuse to be outside!

Minky Monkey Moo Learn Colours Hunt 2
I hid 2 of each coloured shape (one for each twin) around the garden - under a hedge, in the hedge, on a bench, under the trampoline.....

Minky Monkey Moo Learn Colours Hunt 3
I then asked, "can you find a (colour and shape)?" They then enjoyed seeking them out. I did try and get the twins to hunt for different shapes and colours, as they are at different stages in their learning but twins being twins, they helped each other out and passed the second shape to the other. Bless them!

It has been a fun week and they have definitely come on leaps and bounds with their colours. Now to extend their pallet; watch this space.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Easter Decorations, Easter Egg Hunts and Alternative Easter Gifts for Children

Growing up, we used to receive Easter Eggs from relatives (that were scoffed in minutes!), but I do not recall Easter being made into more than just eggs!

My eldest children are almost 3, so this year I wanted to make Easter a special time of year; hopefully to celebrate the arrival of spring too. I will introduce the religious meaning next year, as they still think that Jesus is a baby from Christmas!

I started researching Easter egg hunts but the search grew from there; so I have sought out 'eggtastic' decorations, hunt ideas, unusual gifts and dressing-up bits. 


These fun garlands will make your home full of the colours of Spring whilst creating an exciting atmosphere for your children and guests. I am planning to decorate my home on Saturday night, ready for a fabulous surprise when the children rise on Sunday morning.

Easter Egg Hunt Carrot Garland by Lisa Storms at Fiskars

Carrot Garland
Lisa Storms at Fiskars has created this simple garland that looks fun to make with the children. This will decorate my dining room!

Bunny Garland by Martha Stewart

Bunny Garland
This cute bunny garland by Martha Stewart could decorate another room from the one above. This garland will be in my lounge!

Yarn Eggs by Spoonful

Yarn Eggs
Spoonful have created these colourful egg shaped decorations, that could also make another bright garland.  I shall dot these around the house.

Tiny Pinata by Not Martha

Tiny Pinatas
Megan at Not Martha has posted these Tiny Pinatas, which would be enjoyed by all ages and could make a fun gift alternative to the standard shop bought egg when filled with treats. I am going to give these to the adults in my life, filled goodies.

How to Make Easter Chicks by Myrtle and Eunice

Easter Chicks
These cute chicks would look great decorating any home. A gorgeous creation by Myrtle and Eunice. I love these and think that my youngsters will agree.

Easter Paper Chains from Martha Stewart

Easter Paper Chains
Another great decoration from Martha Stewart. They do look cute around the cake. I am going to put this paper chain along my mantel piece (yes, I will have to stick a few together!).

Easter Bunny Footprints by Kidspot

Easter Bunny Footprints
What a lovely idea by Kidspot. I shall be putting these around the house and garden before the hunt!

Chocolate Free Gifts

Chick Bean Bags by Martha Stewart

Chick Bean Bags
These little chicks by Martha Stewart would be a fun alternative to a sweet egg filling (particularly for younger kids).

Little Bunny by Elsie Marley

Little Bunny
A good way to use up the socks that never seemed to fit your baby! Elsie Marley's lovely bunnies would be a great gift alternative to chocolate.

Recycle Mooshy Belly Bunny by Chez Beeper Bebe

Mooshy Belly Bunny
If you ever thought 'what am I going to do with these old t-shirts?', these are the answer! These bunnies by Chez Beeper Bebe would welcome a snuggle for your little ones.

Honey Bunny Bookmark by Martha Stewart

Honey Bunny Bookmark
How sweet are these? Martha Stewart has created a lovely personalised option.

Bunny Finger Puppets by Purlbee

Bunny Finger Puppets
Babies and young children will love these bunnies by Purlbee. I shall be making a few of these for my children to play around with.

Egg T-Shirt by iCandy Homemade

Egg T-Shirt
What a cute gift by iCandy Homemade for the little ones in your life.

Bunny Ears by Martha Stewart

Bunny Ears
What a gorgeous gift for your loved ones. Another great alternative by Martha Stewart. I cannot wait to see Minky, Monkey and Moo in these!

Easter Egg Hunts and Games

The Daily Meal have compiled a list of 10 fun Easter egg hunts. Personally, I think that 'The Bunny Treasure Map' (number 6) sounds like it great fun for kids.

How to Create Your Own Easter Egg Hunt by Red Ted Art for Tesco Magazine

Red Ted Art has created a hunt for Tesco's Magazine, which would be enjoyed by all ages and as the children help to prepare, the fun and atmosphere will be at boiling point by the time the hunt starts!

Fun Egg Games by Jennifer Magnesi for eHow

Jennifer Magnesi posted 6 fun options on eHow. The Egg Race, Treasure Hunt and Egg Toss sound like immense fun for children of all ages.

Fun Easter Egg Hunt Ideas by Gillian Fitzgerald for Little Heroes

Gillian Fitzgerald for Little Heroes has compiled a list of 'Fun Easter Egg Hunt Ideas'. The 'Easter Treasure Map Hunts' gives a good idea of using pictures of the object for younger children to find the egg; something I may implement.

Wow, there are so many options to make and create for children; too many to post today! My house is going to be full of the garlands and yarn eggs. I shall post pictures after Easter to show you my attempts at these great blog entries.

Next Friday, I shall post Easter baskets and packaging for your homemade gifts. Have a good week.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

How to Teach Water Temperatures to your Children

I am fairly certain that my 2-year old twins have mastered the difference between temperatures but sometimes they say something that makes me reconsider this! I decided to have a wet afternoon and to show / teach them the difference between freezing, cold, warm and hot, to make sure. Here's what we did:

Minky Monkey Moo Water Temperature Set Up

  • We placed some filled ice-cube trays into the freezer, after I showed them that the water 'moves'.

  • Once the ice was ready, I set up 4 bowls of water - 2 cold, 1 warm and 1 hot (as hot as the babes can stand it).

  • When we took the ice-cubes out of the freezer, I showed them that the water no longer 'moves' and they felt that the ice-cubes were hard. Together, we put the ice-cubes into 1 of the cold water bowls. I would recommend checking that the frozen water temperature is actually colder than the cold water, as I found that the ice did not cool the water enough so the cold water had to be slightly heated up (but still be cooler than the warm).

  • We placed our hands into the different bowls:
    • Cold water bowl: I explained that this was cold but warmer than the ice water and cooler than the warm bowl.
    • Ice water bowl: I explained that this was icy from the ice and the coldest of all the bowls.
    • When we put our hands back into the cold water bowl, I reiterated that the water was warmer than the ice water.
    • Warm water bowl: I explained that this was warm and also warmer than the cold and ice water but cooler than the hot water.
    • Hot water bowl: I explained that this was the hottest water temperature.
    • We put our hands in and out of all of them to feel the difference between warmer and cooler and the differing temperatures.
    • I really confused them by getting them to place one hand in the cold bowl and the other in the hot bowl for a moment and then to place them both in the warm bowl.

    • Minky Monkey Moo Water Temperature at Play

      It seems to have been a success as they were correctly repeating cold, hot, warmer etc. Afterwards they started scooping out the ice and mixing the water temperatures up, followed by a good splash; leaving the kitchen floor drenched! A good afternoon of playing to learn.

      Minky Monkey Moo Water Temperature after