TIPS FOR FUN HIGH CHAIR ACTIVITIES

At the dinner table, we all wish for our toddlers to sit at the high chair for just a little while more while we enjoy our meals leisurely or when we need to clear up and wash the dishes. I've been wiser with the second child. Experience, doing more research and seeing what other parents have done, do help a lot. I've been engaging Noe with age appropriate activities and listening to her cues more as to what she's interested in, while she's in the high chair. I need time to wash the dishes and I can't do it with a toddler hugging my legs all the time.

Here are some tips that I've gathered through seeing what other mothers blog about and my own experience:

HAVE MULTIPLES OF ONE MATERIAL

Having multiples makes it interesting and allow for experimentation

  • A bag of mini blocks
  • A bowl of pom poms
  • A bottle of alphabets
  • A box of pasta shapes
  • A sheet of stickers
  • A cup of straws of different lengths
tips for fun high chair activities

PUT THE MATERIALS IN CONTAINERS

Recycle those empty containers for child to invite the child to play

  • Materials in a big transparent bottle without the lid
  • Hiding materials in a tissue box
  • Materials in opaque/transparent bottles with a cap screwed on lightly he/she can learn to unscrew and pour out the materials
  • Materials in a opaque/transparent storage box with lid on like sandwich boxes
tips for fun high chair activities

 PAIR THE MATERIALS WITH EQUIPMENT

Simple everyday equipment to train child's fine motor skills

  • Utensils like different sized spoons, forks, ladles (sometimes I just give the real stuff I use in the kitchen)
  • Cups of varying sizes and colours
  • Bowls of varying sizes and colours

(Okay, I don't have any pictures of this because usually at this time, I'm already hands full of soap, washing the dishes :P)

Do note that the all materials and equipment should be age appropriately safe for the toddler, for example, no tiny pom poms. Also, do be mentally prepared for everything to end up on the floor. Noe is now at the age of experimenting how to drop things from the high chair. She gets very amused when she puts her hand through the bottom of the chair (where her legs hang) and drop the pom poms. I try my best to make her clean up by herself. And finally, Noe gets a kick out of reading magazines at the high chair, perhaps you can try that too. Her favourite is the Ikea Magazine :)

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT PERSON

You know THAT FRIEND of yours, the one who used to be your best friend but then she gives you the cold shoulder, she doesn't really say hi anymore though she does try sometimes. And you haven't forgiven her for that.

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW is that she's been going through hell at home, her parents are quarreling all the time, the family's moving again. She just wants to keep it all to herself, she doesn't want anyone to know.


You know THAT BUS DRIVER who drives you to the train station every morning. He curses some of the passengers under his breath. Today he cursed someone really loudly and you wished he will just be more polite.

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW is that he's been working a 10-hour shift and that time you were on the bus, is his final last round. And after work, he's got to go home to take care of his bedridden wife and he terribly misses the home-cook food he used to have when she was well. 


You know THAT STUDENT in your art class who is rather difficult to manage. He doesn't follow instructions during lesson and once he left handprints all over the wall, it almost made you go mad. Not forgetting the time he poured water all over the sink.

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW is that he's been diagnosed with mild autism. The parents of his preschool classmates have requested to segregate him from the class as they're afraid the condition is contagious.


I was reading an article titled, What You Don't Know About That Kid. And it just got me thinking about the many people that I've met in my life - that friend, that bus driver, or that student. It seems that increasingly more people are being more casual in sharing their thoughts openly. Before we shoot our mouths off, retaliate, or have that cursed thought in our minds, let us take a step back to see things from a different perspective, with a fuller picture, it will help us to be a little kinder, have a little more empathy, be a little more forgiving, a little less complaining, a little slower to anger. a little slower to judge. Let us be channels of peace, let us seek to understand more than to be understood. 




SUPERHERO PARTY

We are already 3 weeks into 2015 and Nat is still in the birthday mood. His 4-year old birthday was just a month ago and he is still talking about it, and already thinking about his next birthday. Birthdays are an expensive business nowadays, you got to have a party in school, with the in-laws, with your parents, so technically you need to have 3 cakes! If you can squeeze all the celebrations into one gigantic one, it will be fantastic but renting the venue to accommodate all the guests will still be more expensive than having 3 cakes. 

We decided to have a superhero themed cake for his school party. As a family, we brought him to the Night Safari to celebrate his birthday. It will be kind of difficult to lug a birthday cake along throughout the journey and there is no more budget for another superhero cake. So I decided to just buy a simple Apple Strudel Cake which is extremely light to carry along. And I printed some free superhero toppers printables to decorate the cake. The superhero toppers are awesome because they can be given away as gifts and re-used too. It was a wonderful night and we stopped by the Zebra Cafe to cut the cake. He gave some of the toppers to his best buddy and we came home to make them into superhero badges, simply by attaching a pin at the back. He wore those badges to school too!

superhero party
Click on image to download this free printable

Click on image to download this free printable

You can get the free superhero topper printables from Less than Perfect Life of Bliss and Lotsolydia. Since sharing is caring and I'm very grateful for this free superhero party topper, I made a free printable too. You can just write you child's name on it with a black marker and attach a toothpick or icecream stick to it.  It will be much nicer than putting those free happy birthday signs on the cake :) It comes in red or blue. Or you can export it into a jpeg file and type your child's name on it with the free comics font 'Badaboom BB', which you can download here.

START THE YEAR WITH A BANG

We've been trying to delay playing with the realistic toy weapons like guns or swords. Nat's first exposure was actually in school last year, where his friends started making guns from Lego bricks and shooting each other. We explained to him that he is not ready for guns yet and in our family we don't intend to hurt someone even if it's for play. But of course to totally ban him from playing shooting games will be quite unrealistic and playing cops versus bad guys are part of our childhood. At first we allowed him to make the guns from the Lego bricks but even then it's so tempting to shoot someone, hence we reinvented them as water guns and spraying each other with water is way more fun than shooting someone dead.

And then we tried to think of alternatives to toy weapons and how perhaps we can make and experiment together. He is still a little young in trying to make one by himself. He assisted me in gathering the materials, simple cutting/pasting/assembling and testing out the equipment. I found 2 wonderful alternatives which I think are quite evergreen and can be re-visited again when the children are older and they can try making themselves.

DIY CATAPULT

First, we made a catapult together. He chose his favourite colour, red, for the ice cream sticks. We counted how many ice cream sticks and rubber bands we needed. Then our bottle cap for the launch pad kept dropping even though we stuck it with glue and eventually we used duct tape. I haven't played with a catapult for ages and actually forgot how to press it down! So both of us were testing the catapult, figuring out whether we should press the tip of the ice cream stick or bottle cap to see which action is more powerful. He got a little discouraged and felt like giving up when he couldn't really launch. It was a good lesson for both of us, him on not giving up and me on being a coach to him because eventually when he could do it, it was really fun experimenting how high we could launch the pom pom, if it could go over a box and how far it could go too! We also experimented rolling the pom pom down a long tube and have it land into the launch pad, which really engaged him for a long time as we figure out the angle of the long tube and the proximity of the launch pad to the tube. Read here for the instructions on Catapult for Kids to Make.

start the year with a bang

DIY POM POM LAUNCHER

This one needed a bit more trial and error in its creation. In the original instructions on the DIY Pom Pom Launcher which you can check it out here, the blogger used plastic cups. But my plastic cups were too lousy in quality, the plastic was too soft and every time we tried to launch, the whole thing came apart. Nat and I were getting upset that it couldn't work. Then I tried using toilet rolls instead and attached the balloon onto the toilet roll with duct tape. Hooray for me keeping all those toilet rolls and recycling them for this toy! Nat insisted we make one launcher for every family member, he is so thoughtful in choosing the different coloured balloons for each of us. We also had a lot of experimenting with these, placing the pom poms deep into the toilet roll, how hard to pull the balloon end and at what angle should tilt our launcher. We realised that by making the balloon ends shorter, we don't need to place the pom poms deep inside anymore and there will be a more powerful launch. At the beginning, we were still just randomly just launching the poms poms so there wasn't much fun after a while. But then the next day, we came up with a game called "Army Training", Nat started building a fort and together we invented fun drills like rolling on the mattress, crawling, jumping jacks, running and then launching our pom poms! Really good activity to expend his energy indoors especially on those rainy days!

start the year with a bang

As we start the year off thinking of activities to engage our children, let's start the year with a bang! Hope you and your child will have a great time creating and experimenting, with these easily available and inexpensive materials :)

COOKING INSPIRATION: CHOCOLATE YOGHURT MUFFINS

For people who love cooking, they must be real foodies themselves. I'm not a foodie, and I could actually just eat bread for all my meals and I would rather eat bread than have to cook or to step out of the house to buy food. When the children came, things changed dramatically. I can't give them bread everyday! I think I would be arrested for child abuse. So today's cooking inspiration is MY CHILDREN.

MY CHILDREN sort of forced me to learn how to cook. The countless burnt food, uncooked food, inedible food and gross looking food - I've been there, done that. My poor children, having to go through my various cooking experiments. There was time that I wanted to give up because my children are not very adventurous about food and have a distaste for many types of food. They dislike potatoes, tomatoes, beef, pumpkin, and the list goes on.

Thus, it has been very difficult to plan meals. If I keep cooking the same thing, they will get bored of it, for example, they dislike carrots now. If I try new kinds of food, they will never touch it, for example, they dislike pies, lasagne and tomato-based pasta. Many times I will pull my hair out from thinking what to cook to satisfy them or beat myself so hard for my lousy cooking skills!

And then when I hit the very bottom of my cooking desperation - there was the moment of realisation: Sometimes I will cook what I like to eat and if they don't want to eat, then it's okay because they won't starve to death just because of one meal. And then sometimes I will also cook what they like to eat, and it's okay for me because I'll eat anything. I just need to vary the recipes so that I don't get bored of always cooking the same old things.

Today's recipe comes from that steep learning journey. I really like how the author describes this recipe: "Here’s one simple, healthy & fuss-free recipe... It can be done within half an hour including baking time, great for the busy people! All you need is two bowls, a hand whisk and a rubber spatula." I think they got so bored of eating banana muffins already that I needed to find new muffin recipes. This is the first time I've baked chocolate muffins. I love them because the texture is just nice and it's not too sweet. My daughter loves them too but my son struggles to finish them. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. I let him spread jam on the muffins since he has a sweet tooth.

chocolate yoghurt muffins

(Taken from Munch Ministry)

Ingredients

  • 180g organic unbleached flour (or plain flour)
  • 20g organic wholemeal flour (you can replace it with plain flour if you prefer not to use wholemeal )
  • 100g organic raw sugar (or caster sugar)
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg (60g)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g greek style yogurt
  • 85g unsalted butter, melted 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the first seven dry ingredients with a hand whisk.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg, vanilla extract, yogurt & melted butter together. Gently fold this mixture into the dry ingredients until all ingredients are incorporated. Take care not to over mix, the final mixture is of lumpy texture.
  5. Fill the muffin cases till 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.