When people hear or ask what I do, they often think that I’m out of my mind or living in a state of chaos, when I tell them that I watch three toddlers under the age of two. Honestly, it is anything but chaos, and I truly love the day to day with these three. How, many of you may ask, do I do it?!?! Well, the answer is simple, but maybe not what you would expect- routine. I have found that having a routine is crucial to make our day to day a little easier, and a lot more fun. It may seem like a rigid notion, but children of all ages THRIVE on routine. I think this can be said especially for toddlers. Knowing what to expect each day makes a toddler feel “smart” and secure in a way. Think about it, toddlers are smaller and weaker than the people they are surrounded by on a daily basis. Knowing the routine of the day helps to build a sense of security that leads to confidence and independence. So, what does a typical day and week look like in the Bivone household? I’m so very glad that you asked!
In the interest of being user friendly and respectful of your time (I’m hoping that busy moms such as myself are reading this blog, and I know you don’t have the time to read paragraph after paragraph about meals, diaper changing, naps, etc.), I’m simply going to give you a rough “schedule” of sorts, and then elaborate where I see fit:
Independent Free Play (this is when I clean up after breakfast and prepare for the next meal and/or activity)
Daily Activity (Music, Art, Water Play, Sensory Play, Fine Motor Skills Activity- more to come on this, but you have to keep reading!)
Morning Nap (only if needed)
Lunch and Learn (we typically watch an educational DVD during lunch- more to come on this in a future blog post)
Independent Free Play (this is when I clean up after lunch and prepare for the next activity)
Daily Activity (keep reading…)
Now that you have an idea of what our day looks like on a daily basis, I wanted to go into a little more detail about these “daily” activities. I am a BIG fan of routine, clearly, but I don’t ever want the day-to-day to become mundane. To keep our routine interesting, I decided to follow a rotation of sorts. Inspired by my days as a teacher where we rotated our specials routine, I created a weekly rotation of my own. I love a good alliteration, so where it made sense, I applied this principle in the title of my daily activity. I was left with Music Mondays, Art on Tuesdays, Water Wednesdays, Sensory Play on Thursdays, and Fine Motor Skill Fridays. Now, there are days and weeks where we are not able to follow this schedule exactly (sick days, Mondays as a holiday, etc.), but generally, this is what our week looks like.
Independent Free Play
Before jumping head first into these daily activities, let’s take a step back and look at that “independent free play” I mentioned in the earlier schedule. Now, before you call DFCS (Division of Family and Children Services) on me, please know that my home is COMPLETELY child proofed, and the kids are very well monitored. I’m by no means running out to the store and/or leaving the children alone, but I am in the kitchen cleaning/preparing, while they are playing by themselves in the living room. Now, had you asked me a year ago if I
could would let the kids play independently, I would have quickly (and with a bit of judgment might I add) said “NO!” I felt that I needed to be right with them every minute of every day engaging them, talking to them, ensuring that they were developing appropriately in every way, shape, and form. Then, I took a step back, or should I say, a look into their future. I drew from my experience as a teacher and thought of some of my students during recess. I could recall some of them asking me what they should do or telling me they were bored. I was dumbfounded. You have 3+ playgrounds and hundreds of friends, as well as an assortment of balls and hula hoops to play with. How could they be bored?!?! Then it dawned on me- they did not know how to play independently! They have grown up in a world of over-engagement. Did I want these kids to grow up the same way? Absolutely not! Now, don’t get me wrong, some level of engagement and interaction is crucial for a child’s development, but I did not want T growing up not knowing what to do in those moments of “free” time. Hence, independent free play!
We love exploring music and sounds in our household so much, that we dedicated an entire day to just this. From singing nursery rhymes to exploring beats and sounds on our instruments, our daily activities are filled with music each and every Monday. It all started when I signed T and one of the boys I watch up for a music class at a local church. Once a week we enjoyed getting together with other area kids and singing songs, playing music, exploring movement, etc. The class started when they were nine months old, and then ended right after they turned one. The kids loved it, and I found myself really looking forward to this time as well. Seeing their faces light up when they realized they could create music themselves was amazing, and I wanted to continue this stimulation and learning in my own home. I talked to my incredibly talented music teacher friend who told me all of the benefits that music has on a child’s learning and development. I was hooked! This same amazing friend got T her own set of music instruments that I will discuss in a future blog, and this has become the foundation of our Music Monday curriculum (for lack of a better word). My plan is to have a blog next week that goes into detail some of the “lessons” I have done involving music, as well as the benefits of each activity. Look for that to come next week! 😉
From exploring colors to creating memorable pieces of art, I always make sure to include some form of art in our weekly routine. It is a goal of mine to have T and her friends identifying colors before preschool, and we are well on our way. With the help of our amazing Color DVD (more on that later), and our color sorting tubes (pictured above), we have a good grasp on identifying and saying three colors! I will outline more on our color tubes in a future blog, but using an old puffs container and objects we had around the house, we sort and say various colors to help build these skills. The kids are having fun, and learning at the same time!
T has created so many incredible pieces of art throughout her first year of life, and I know that I will cherish them for years to come. I love to do seasonal pieces, but throw in some pieces just for fun as well. I will go into more detail on the steps to creating some of these pieces, as well as tips for the best results. Now that T and her friends are getting older, they are much more involved in the pieces. From helping to prep the supplies to tearing pieces of paper for added fine motor skills work, I try to plan pieces of art that will keep them engaged. We also have a chalkboard wall in our play room. Here we take our artistic creations off the paper, and explore creating our own pieces of art. The act of drawing with chalk and crayons is incredible for both gross and fine motor development. If you can’t wait a few weeks for my full blog on our Art Tuesdays head on over to Pinterest and find my board titled Art Inspiration. I am constantly pinning new ideas and finding inspiration for future art projects.
With as hot as this summer has been, we have thoroughly enjoyed, and taken advantage of, what has become our favorite day of the week- Water Wednesdays! Whether we are playing on our water table or in one of the sprinkler attachments that we have, Wednesdays are always fun over here! I find that it is enjoyable for the kids and myself to get outside, and not be too hot in doing so. Not only is it teaching cause and effect, but it is also giving the kids a good healthy dose of exercise. With the fall and winter months ahead our Wednesdays are going to look a little different. Stay tuned on the blog to get ideas for not only the evolution of this activity, but also ways to incorporate learning and fine/gross motor skill development.
If you follow me on Instagram (@stephbivone) or Facebook (Stephanie Bivone), then you know how much I love sensory play! I think the thing that I love about sensory play is that the possibilities are endless!!! There are so many things that you have in your house right now that you can use for these amazing, and in my opinion essential, activities- rice, flour, pasta, dried beans, and so much more. I love to create bins with different textures for the kids to explore. This is exposing them to different textures, which is essential in the development of their senses, and is working to develop their gross motor skills as well. And not to mention, they have a BLAST!!! I especially love to make themed bins, the teacher in me coming right on out! Ocean, jungle, seasonal- the possibilities are endless. I will once again go into further detail in a future blog on ideas, benefits, and ingredients. Can’t wait?!?! Check out my Sensory Fun board on Pinterest!
Fine Motor Skills Fridays
You may be thinking what are fine motor skills, and why does my kid need to develop these?!?! A fine motor skill, basically dexterity, is the coordination and use of smaller muscle movements. Kids will need to strengthen these skills, and the muscles that go along with them for activities and skills that they will use for a majority of their lives- picking up objects between fingers and thumb, writing, tying shoe laces, etc. As evidenced through my other activities, I like to make learning this skill fun! I therefore make “games” that further enhance these skills. Using objects that you can get at a local craft store such as pipe cleaners and pom poms, you can create activities that will keep your toddlers occupied for at least half an hour. That’s right, you read correctly, HALF AN HOUR! Those of you who don’t have toddlers are probably thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Half an hour in toddler years is like two hours in kid years! Seriously! I’ll go more into activity ideas in a future blog, but use these pictures and some ideas from my Pinterest board Fine Motor Skills Fun as inspiration for your own use in the meantime.
Alright everyone, there you have it- a week in the life of Bivone at Home! I’m excited to see where this blog takes us, and watching as it evolves with each new post. Thank you so much for reading! I hope that I have given you at least a few inspirations for activities that you can do in your own home with your little ones. What are some things you would like to see on the blog in the future? Always looking for inspiration from YOU!!!