Although I had dreams of taking Luke to a bunch of fun places on my maternity leave like Kings Island, some small water parks near our house, the zoo and the aquarium, it just isn't possible right now with me being on unpaid maternity leave. With my paycheck gone, we've really had to cut back in order not to dip into our savings. But keeping a toddler occupied at home, with the same old toys he's played with everyday, just wasn't working for me. The tv of course was working, but I HATE using the tv as a babysitter. I really like to limit it is one hour a day, or a movie. Anyway, I racked my brain for some free activities that would be fun and even educational and something that would keep him occupied while I took care of Brooke.
So early today, to celebrate his actual birthday, I took him to the Greene, an outdoor mall near our house. In the center they have one of those interactive fountains. It was packed, but really I think that was good for Luke. He was he youngest one there, and he's still a little timid about getting water in his face, but seeing th other older kids running through the fountain really helped. He had a blast. And the cost? Nothing of course!
Then, for my birthday, my aunt gave me a deck of cards called "50 Activies for You and Your Toddler." It's a simple idea, but a gift I'm really glad I got. My aunt knows that I love being a mom more than anything in the world, so why bother getting me a gift card or something when she knows all too well I'm just going to spend it on my kids. So what better of a gift than something I can DO with my kids!
Anyway, today I had Luke pick two cards from the deck that we could do during Brooke's naps. During her first nap, we did the card called "Color Changes." We followed the directions which said to fill a couple plastic cups with water. We had these left over from his party. Then I let Luke stick red, yellow, and blue markers in the glasses to tint the color of the water. Then, wth my help, we poured water into a couple other plastic cups, mixing the colors to make new colors. Of course he learned that red and yellow make orange and yellow and blue make green and so on. Something so simple in my mind, yet he thought it was magic. I loved seeing the delight on his face. During Brooke's later nap, he drew the card that said "Bowl Away." We grabbed 10 empty water bottles from the garage (leftover from his party as well, otherwise I'm not a fan of going though tons of plastic water bottles) and then I taught him how to roll a ball to knock them all down. He had gone bowling a few weeks ago with some friends down the street, and I was suprised to see that he totally knew what to do. Of course he wanted to cheat little, but I just looked the other way. The idea is to hae fun right?
And this past weekend we were at Home depot buying a nail gun for Todd's Father's Day present when I noticed these Mickey Mouse shaped cards in the paint section. Apparently Behr has a line of Disney colors. So these paint sample were just sitting there. I thought it would make a great, and free, matihng game for Luke. So I grabbed two in every color (a few are missing already if you can't tell) and threw them in my bag on the way out. So to help Luke learn his colors, I do a few different things with these. We can either tell him to match the colors, or we can turn them over and play memory, or we can just point to the different cards and ask him what color each card is. He has a blast and he'll sit there by himself for a good 20 minutes just going through his colors. My favorite is when he says they are all "yewo." Yellow is his favorite color and although he knows his colors.....sometimes everything is yellow just because he loves to say it. =)